Concorde was a masterpiece of engineering, a technological marvel and the greatest financial disaster in aviation history but for all who look skyward and dream, she is sadly missed.
Fifteen years ago, on October 24, 2003, the Concorde, on most people’s bucket list, made her last flight, as age and economic reality finally caught up with her.
She was the transport of choice for the rich and famous, the Concorde was part of a world beyond the reach of most people.
Celebrities who forked out the $20,000 for the return trip from London to New York have included Elton John, Sting, Rod Stewart, Mick Jagger, Joan Collins, Luciano Pavarotti, Sean Connery, Robert Redford, Elizabeth Taylor, Joan Collins, Mike Tyson, Annie Lennox and Rod Stewart.
In 1985, Phil Collins used Concorde to perform at the 16-hour Live Aid both in London and Philadelphia before the show finished.
The plane was a favorite with the Queen and the late Queen Mother was reported to have taken the controls of one Concorde during a test flight.
In the final analysis, behind the glitz and glamour, the Concorde was one project that should never have got off the ground.
It was a product of the age of “speed and sputnik“, when it seemed there were no limits to what could be achieved in the skies.
The Concorde had its commercial genesis at the Paris Air Show in 1961, when French aircraft manufacturer Sud Dassault proudly displayed a model of the Super Caravelle, which could carry 70 passengers at supersonic speed.
It sped up British efforts to produce a supersonic jet, which had started in 1956.
By March 1962, the French and British governments intervened to merge the efforts in a joint Supersonic Transport project.
But the agreement reached in November 1962 contained no provision for a ceiling on the costs, estimated to be $414 million, nor was any review or cancellation process agreed on.
At different times, both France and Britain wanted to abandon the project but because of the wording of the treaty, the other would seize the opportunity to recoup its own expenditure and, of course, maintain that it wanted the Concorde to carry on.
The first Concorde to fly took off in March 1969 when options had been received for 80 Concordes from 18 airlines, including Qantas.
Only government-owned Air France and BOAC put Concorde into service at no capital cost, after complex write-off and profit-share/loss underwriting arrangements were struck.
The first commercial flight was not until January 21, 1976, when a British Airways jet flew from Heathrow to Bahrain, at the same time as an Air France jet flew to Rio de Janeiro.