Civil Aviation

Here’s the only picture of Concorde flying at supersonic speed

The Concorde had to slow down from Mach 2 to Mach 1.5-1.6 so that the Tornado crew could get the shot

Taken in April 1985 the cool photo in this post is the only picture of Concorde flying at supersonic speed.

The image was taken by Adrian Meredith who was flying a Royal Air Force (RAF) Tornado jet during a rendezvous with the Concorde over the Irish Sea in April 1985.

Although the Tornado could match Concorde’s cruising speed it could only do so for a matter of minutes due to the enormous rate of fuel consumption.

Several attempts were made to take the photo, and eventually the Concorde had to slow down from Mach 2 to Mach 1.5-1.6 so that the Tornado crew could get the shot. The Tornado was stripped of everything to get it up to that speed as long as possible.

After racing to catch the Concorde and struggling to keep up, the Tornado broke off the rendezvous after just four minutes, while Concorde cruised serenely on to JFK!

Noteworthy Concorde’s fastest transatlantic crossing was on Feb. 7, 1996 when it completed the New York to London flight in 2 hours 52 minutes and 59 seconds.

Aérospatiale/BAC Concorde was a British-French supersonic passenger jet airliner. It had a maximum speed of Mach 2.04 (1,354 mph or 2,180 km/h at cruise altitude, over twice the speed of sound), with seating for 92 to 128 passengers. The aircraft entered service in 1976 and continued flying for the next 27 years.

Concorde, which was jointly developed and manufactured by Aérospatiale and the British Aircraft Corporation (BAC) under an Anglo-French treaty, was built in twenty samples including six prototypes and development aircraft.

Air France (AF) and British Airways (BA) were the only airlines to purchase and fly Concorde.

The supersonic airliner flew regular transatlantic flights from London’s Heathrow Airport and Paris’s Charles de Gaulle Airport to John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York, Washington Dulles International Airport and Grantley Adams International Airport in Barbados; it flew these routes in less than half the time of other airliners.

The type was eventually retired in 2003 after the crash of Air France Flight 4590 on Jul. 25, 2000, in which all passengers and crew were killed. The general downturn in the commercial aviation industry after the September 11 attacks in 2001, and the ceasing of maintenance support for Concorde by Airbus (the successor company of both Aérospatiale and BAC), also contributed.

This model is available from AirModels – CLICK HERE TO GET YOURS.

Photo credit: Adrian Meredith / Crown Copyright

Dario Leone

Dario Leone is an aviation, defense and military writer. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviation Geek Club” one of the world’s most read military aviation blogs. His writing has appeared in The National Interest and other news media. He has reported from Europe and flown Super Puma and Cougar helicopters with the Swiss Air Force.

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