Memories: Reminiscing on a Concorde career
Captain Mark Jealous divulges all on flying Concorde for British Airways…
“The best time to fly Concorde was in the evenings in the Spring or the Autumn. I would drive to the airport watching the sun set. I would jump on board my Concorde, I’d get airborne and I would start flying to New York at approximately 1500 miles an hour. The earth rotates at about 600 miles an hour. So I am flying at twice the rotational speed of the earth. So consequently I would’ve seen the sun set on my way to the airport, get in my Concorde, head to New York, and watch the sun rise. So the sun would come up, I’d land in daylight again and on the bus to the bar, I’d watch the sun set for the second time.
Now going the other way, you’re flying at twice the rotational speed of the earth, plus you’ve got the rotational speed of the earth. So night time would be coming towards you at approximately 2,100 miles per hour. So you could see a line in the sky which was night time; so it would be daylight, and then ‘whoosh’…night time! And of course the other people that see this affect are shuttle astronauts.
The other thing was looking out of the window – because 95% of the earth’s atmosphere is below you we would actually be looking up straight into space. So when I looked out of my window it would be the blackness of space. So you could see the ‘thin blue line’. That’s what we would see from the window of our Concorde. And of course associated with that is the curvature of the earth – on certain days the horizon curved so you could tell the earth was round.
The magic of Concorde was that we always flew well above the weather. So we never had any. At 60,000 feet there’s no wind and there’s no weather.”