MIAMI — Ten years ago today, on October 24, 2003, tears were shed and cheers were heard around the world as Concorde completed its final commercial flight, ending an era of supersonic passenger travel. British Airways flight two from New York JFK airport landed at 4:05PM in London’s Heathrow Airport to fantastic fanfare. After landing the airplane taxied around the airport for the better part of an hour before finally coming to a stop at the gate.
Actress Joan Collins, model Christie Brinkley, and British media magnate Piers Morgan along with business executives from major companies and politicians rubbed elbows during the short 3.5 hour flight. Interestingly, one couple from the US reportedly paid $60,000 for a pair of tickets on eBay. Another businessman inadvertently wound up on board the flight, his assistant having booked it months before.
The final commercial flight was preceded by two other company Concorde landings only minutes before. One, flying in from Edinburgh, was filled with contest winners. The other carried passengers down for a high-octane scenic flight around the Bay of Biscay. The airplane managed to grace the skies from New York to Bahrain, Caracas to London for twenty-seven years, carrying thousands of passengers faster than a speeding bullet while cruising at the edge of space.
British Airways (BA), in tandem with French Concorde operator Air France, announced the retirement of the airplane in April of 2003. Pressure had been mounting to shutter the aging airplane as a combination of the Air France crash in 2000, low post-9/11 demand, and rising fuel and maintenance costs made keeping the flagship airplane airborne increasingly untenable. Air France, who reportedly had more trouble keeping Concorde profitable than BA, completed their final commercial flight only six weeks after the announcement on May 30th.
While today’s anniversary does mark the final commercial flight, the Concorde fleet was not yet done flying. Concordes were delivered to museums across the world over the next month (check back tomorrow to find out where you can see one today!). The final Concorde flight landed in Briston, England, in November of 2003.
We could continue droning on with more text, but figured that today a video post would be the best way to remember the iconic airplane. We collected four videos of the final days of Concorde.
Air France last Concorde departure from JFK:
Concorde Final JFK Departure:
Emotional audio recording of the last Concorde flight, via JFK ATC:
Last flights landing at British Airways: