Concorde from construction to the air
Pierre Horsfall CBE describes his flights on Concorde, having been such an integral part of getting the iconic aircraft off the ground:
“I flew in Concorde three times to be precise, but one was a commercial flight. I like telling people the story about the ability of this amazing aeroplane. I'd left Jersey at 7am, flew to Heathrow and got a nice breakfast on my flight, got to Heathrow and changed to Concorde, and got a much better second breakfast on Concorde going to New York. I arrived in New York having had that second breakfast. I then switched to American Airlines which was going to San Juan and of course it was earlier than when I had left Heathrow, so what did I get? A third breakfast. Three breakfasts in the same day and it wasn't even 11am.
“One flight I did, through my friend Alistair when he was at British Airways, was a positioning flight out of Heathrow to Cardiff, so if somebody says to me, what's the most exciting flight you ever had in Concorde, I say London to Cardiff. The reason was that the aeroplane was almost empty. The Captain was Jock Lowe and he came on and warned us, he said I must tell you that we are light, we are over 100 tonnes lighter than normal and we will take off with full reheat because that's what you do with Concorde, we will rotate at 250 mph, and that will take us under 20 seconds from brakes off. So I actually timed it, and we did 0 to 250, when we rotated, in 18 seconds. It's a fair bit of acceleration. Then of course we went up like a rocket because there was no weight in the aeroplane, so that was quite spectacular I felt myself really pressed hard into my seat and my cheeks pulled backwards. We landed in Cardiff and of course, as usual, there were crowds of people who knew it was coming, waiting to see this iconic aircraft. Crowds of people were also there to see us off.
“This trip was for BA engineering customers who were looking at the new 747 maintenance facility at Cardiff, they and I had been invited to a fast food lunch, and of course fast food lunch was at Mach 2 round the Bay of Biscay.
“It was quite amazing and the more important you were the further up you were seated. Seat 1A was Joan Collins’ seat according to the crew. When doing the Bay of Biscay flight I was sat at the back, I knew my place, but as it was going up through the lower banks of clouds, there was a little bit of turbulence, and looking along the long thin cabin, you could see the body move and flex, I'd never seen that in an aeroplane before. It was quite surprising that there was this kind of circular flexing motion, quite extraordinary.”