Step back in time to a supersonic blast from the past as Australian Business Traveller steps inside the Concorde for this 'access all areas' photo tour.
For almost three decades from the mid-70s to 2003, the Concorde was the only way to fly – especially if you were shuttling between London and New York, a route which the streamlined jet conquered in barely three hours.
Today, one of 18 remaining Concordes is part of New York's Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum, at the west side of Manhattan overlooking the Hudson River to New Jersey.
British Airways' 'Alpha Delta' Concorde – taken from the final two letters of the G-BOAD registration – is positively draped in history.
Of the 14 Concordes built for commercial service, this one spent the most time in the sky, having notched up 23,397 flight hours.
For a time it also sported Singapore Airlines livery down one side of the plane – retaining BA livery on the other side – as part of a short-lived airline partnership on the London-Singapore route.
Many years later in 1996, the aircraft would also set the world record for the fastest trans-Atlantic passenger flight from New York's JFK Airport to London Heathrow: accomplished in two hours, 52 minutes and 59 seconds under the supervision of Captain Leslie Scott.
Although now fading, Captain Scott's autograph remains in the cockpit, joined by a reminder of the record time and autographs of the team responsible for G-BOAD's last-ever flight: from Heathrow to JFK on November 10 2003.
From there, the aircraft was moved by barge along the Hudson River to Intrepid, where it now stands proudly at Pier 86.
Australian Business Traveller took a private tour of the cabin and cockpit to bring you these exclusive snaps, including a look at parts of the aircraft normally closed to the public.
Concorde photos: Concorde Class, passenger cabin
Forget first class – BA decreed the exclusive service level worthy of being christened 'Concorde Class'. Yet what strikes every first-time visitor to the Concorde is how small and, by today's standards, cramped the cabin feels.
BA's Concordes had 100 seats – 40 in the front cabin and 60 in the rear – arranged in a 2-2 layout, and at first glance you'd be forgiven for thinking this was economy.
(Although with trans-Atlantic flights rarely longer than 3.5 hours, making them quicker than your average Sydney-Perth trek, lie-flat beds simply weren't necessary.)
We found the legroom more than ample in Row 1...
... aided by removing the footrests better-suited to those of smaller stature...
... and still comfortable-enough further back with plenty of knee room:
When it came time for the inflight lobster, Row 1 passengers really were the Chosen Ones with tray tables folding open to unveil a seriously-sized dining space...
... and retracting to provide an easy cocktail table:
Away from the bulkheads, smaller and more plane-like trays were the norm:
Also remaining a staple of modern air travel are overhead lockers, with the Concorde's large enough to fit this author's laptop bag, but which would certainly struggle to accommodate the larger rollaboard varieties.
Directly underneath were personal air vents, a call bell to have your Champagne replenished and the obligatory reading lights...
... complementing the relatively limited natural light flowing in through the small exterior windows – a necessity of the aircraft's supersonic design.
Passengers, of course, were reminded of their speed and altitude via screens at the front of each cabin, along with the temperature outside...
... but which now sit idle and recognisable only if you know what you're looking for:
As we wander back into the rear cabin – off-limits to the public and normally seen only through a perspex screen – the seats lose their protective plastic covers and remain just as they were when Concorde was flying.
These newer-style seats afforded passengers audio-based inflight entertainment with a selection of radio channels at their fingertips...
... and armrests that are just wide enough to share...
... or can be spun and retracted to create more elbow room for couples...
... or those lucky enough to have a vacant seat beside them.
Concorde photos: inside the cockpit
No tour of the Concorde would be complete without a visit to the flight deck, which the public tour fortunately allows.
Prospective aviators are welcome to sit in the jumpseat...
... and to stickybeak at the various dials, gauges and instruments, including the all-important Machmeter...
... and the lever to control the Concorde's nose:
That was a very important control for the pilots to have, as the Concorde's design ordinarily blocked their view of the tarmac below, as we witnessed here in New York with the nose in 'cruising' position.
By lowering that nose for taxi, take-off and on landing, safety – and the pilots' viewing angle on the ground – was improved considerably.
Exiting the Concorde, we paused to glance across the wing as so many passengers did before us...
... but what most probably didn't realise is that the prominent reflective white paint they saw wasn't merely a design choice by British Airways, or indeed even Air France on its own Concordes.
Instead, it helped prevent the aircraft from overheating at supersonic speeds by reducing its exterior temperature by 6-11°C – an impossible feat with a darker, heat-absorbing colour.
With its wings well and truly clipped, the Concorde now helps museumgoers to avoid the heat by sheltering them as they enjoy their lunch: not entirely unlike the journey of yesteryear.
Members of the public can join one of Intrepid's many hour-long Concorde tours to experience this magnificent aircraft for themselves. For more information or to book a tour time, visit the Intrepid website.
Chris Chamberlin was a guest of Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum.
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