A flight from London to New York lasted less than three and a half hours. It took off like a bat out of hell at 250 mph. It had a cruising speed of 1350 mph — more than twice the speed of sound. It was one of the most vaunted achievements in Western aviation and is perennially adored by fanatics. Despite this, the venerable Concorde jet retired from our skies 12 years ago when British Airways withdrew the last of its fleet from passenger service.
However, as soon as 2019, we may again see the supersonic jet streak across the Atlantic. While we have been duped by botched resurrection plots in the past, one indefatigable cohort of former captains, charters, and aviation fans is putting its money where its mouth is. Club Concorde reports that it has reserved £120m, which it says is enough for a “return to flight” plan. The group previously raised £40m for nascent plans to display a refurbished jet on London’s River Thames as a tourist attraction.
“We have been overwhelmed by the amount of enthusiasm and people wanting to invest,” Club Concorde president Paul James told the BBC. “The support shows how much people still admire Concorde and want to see it flying again.”
While negotiations are underway to acquire two aircrafts from France, agreements have yet to be made. Club Concorde hopes to purchase a jet stationed near the Orly Airport in Paris to ready it for the proposed tourist attraction by 2017. The club has also set it sights on a Concorde on display at Le Bourget airport in Paris, which they hope to gear up for flight by 2019. While British Airways and Air France have no plans to reintroduce Concorde flights to passenger service, James says the aircraft will be made available for air shows, special events, and private charter — though we expect the latter to be a hell of a costly ticket.
If Club Concorde can get this much-loved jet back in the skies again by 2019, it’ll be just in time for the 50th anniversary of the inaugural Concorde flight. The first-ever flight took off on March 2, 1969 from Toulouse, France and later began commercial service at Air France and British Airways in 1976. Though the jet was created by a partnership between France and Britain, it has endured as a national icon for both nations.
However, that legacy was marked by tragedy. In 2000, an Air France jet en route to New York crashed after takeoff from Paris, killing 113 people. Though it was the Concorde's only fatal accident, the damage was irreparable. All Concorde flights were grounded for over a year, and British Airways and Air France eventually retired their Concorde fleets in 2003, citing financial losses.
Despite the tragedy, aviation lovers wax nostalgic about the gilded age of this supremo of the sky, when the jet set could hop the Atlantic in just a short afternoon. For a look at what they’ve been raving about, take a look at the badass video below:
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