MIAMI – Today in Aviation, the Aérospatiale/BAC Concorde, the British–French turbojet-powered supersonic passenger airliner icon, first flew in 1969.

Taking advantage of a passable meteorological situation, 52 years ago, a strange-looking, futuristic aircraft lined up for take-off at the end of a special runway at Toulouse-Blagnac Airport (TLS).

Air France Concorde – Photo Fabrizio Spicuglia/Airways

The Flight


We are taken back to March 2, 1969, to relive the maiden flight of the Concorde, the Franco-British aircraft created by Sud-Aviation, and British Aircraft Corporation, and the first-ever supersonic civil aircraft designed to carry passengers on long-haul flights. The aircraft is “prototype 001”, registered as F-WTSS, out of Sud-Aviation production line on December 11, 1967.

The now-famous Capt. André Turcat, copilot Jacque Guignard, engineer Henry Perrier, and flight engineer Michel Retif. are seated at the controls in the cockpit of F-WTSS.

This first flight, which lasted 27 minutes, was carried out in the skies of the Garonne valley. André Turcat commented on this first flight by saying, “this is not an achievement but just the beginning of our work.”

British airways Concorde G-BOAB – Photo Phil Wilco737/Airways

Retiring an icon


However, as the story goes, the Concorde lived an aeronautically short life. The retirement of the Concorde was ultimately motivated, apart from concerns over its noise pollution, by the general decline in the commercial aviation industry following the September 11 attacks in 2001, as well as the end of Airbus’ maintenance support for the aircraft.

The first commercial flight took place on January 22, 1976, on the Paris-Orly (ORY)-Rio de Janeiro (GIG) leg. The type’s last flight was on October 24, 2003, out of London-Heathrow (LHR) to New york’s JFK. Today, we once more celebrate the first flight of this feat of aviation imagination and ingenuity.

You can see the Concorde in all its glory by taking this US road trip to the aviation museums where the ‘White Bird’ is currently housed. You can also read some fun facts here about the iconic supersonic aircraft.

Photo: Tony Bordelais/Airways

Featured image: Airbus