Concorde wasn’t just a jet; it was an exclusive club. Imagine having the ability to get caviar on board an airplane while flying at 60,000 feet in the air. As special as Concorde was, it was limited for the elite to fly in. Concorde still has the distinction of being the only commercial supersonic aircraft, with the tagline “Arrive Before You Leave” for its ability to carry passengers westward over the Atlantic Ocean in around three hours. The Concorde not just attracted attention due to its design or capabilities, but also for the unmatchable aura of thrill and luxury it offered.
Concorde’s technological advancements continue to astound aviation experts today. The aircraft’s adjustable droop nose, revised brake systems, delta-shaped wing, and expanding fuselage were created by British and French experts to meet the specific problems of operating at supersonic speeds. Each aircraft was pushed through liftoff and the sound barrier, or Mach 1, a speed of 662 nautical miles per hour at sea level, to a maximum cruising speed of 1,354 miles per hour at altitudes up to 60,000 feet, right at the edge of space, by four Rolls Royce engines equipped with afterburners. Concorde shuttled its upper-crust passengers over the Atlantic in roughly three hours for an average round-trip ticket price of nearly $12,000: an airborne assemblage of riches, power, and celebrity hurtling along at breakneck speed. A trip without at least one celebrity passenger, ranging from monarchy to rock stars to supermodels, was unusual. The late Princess Diana is arguably the most famous passenger on the Concorde. Six cabin crew members were in charge of serving multi-course meals to the flight’s 100 or so passengers. When traveling at twice the speed of sound, you’d already traveled 26 miles by the time you poured a glass of Champagne. For the Concorde, a separate wine was made. The Concorde Wine Cellar was exclusively curated for the fleet, with famous sparkling, red, and white wines, mostly from France, paired to each course. Entrees like lobster and duck à l’orange were served on fine china, and caviar was a signature beginning.
Luggage tags, toys, cutlery, bottle openers, matches, coasters, vanity kits, wallets, and even cognac flasks are just a few of the items available. Concorde was a brand in and of itself, with items that still sell for a lot of money on eBay. Passengers would take anything that could be removed off the plane as a souvenir. Before passengers even boarded the jet, the Concorde experience began in a designated lounge. It was like being at a sky-high social club. You could have Paul McCartney leading the entire jet in a Beatles sing-along, or Phil Collins taking the plane to both the UK and the US to perform at Live Aid on the same day. Then there’s royalty: the queen, the pope, among other leaders of the state.
We might never witness something like the Concorde ever again, in terms of design, engineering, precision, and luxury. It was the pinnacle of flying and luxury, something only a few ever got a chance to live.
- wallpapercave (Cover Photo)