Civil Aviation

That time two Concorde supersonic airliners landed simultaneously at Orlando International Airport (and cooked the runway when they took off)

The British Airways and Air France Concorde supersonic airliners approached from the south and touched down next to each other less than two seconds apart before a crowd estimated at 35,000.

After having hosted the first test flights of the X-1 rocket plane in 1946, another aviation event related to supersonic flight was held at the airfield that today is Orlando International Airport (MCO).

On Oct. 18, 1982, as the photo and the video in this post show, two Concorde supersonic airliners landed almost simultaneously for the first-time side by side on parallel runways at Orlando International Airport.

As reported by the Orlando Sentinel, the event was arranged by Walt Disney and essentially was a publicity stunt to hype the arrival of the sponsors of exhibits at the newly opened Epcot Center’s British and French pavilions.

Noteworthy, Air France and British Airways, the two European (and only) airlines that flew the Concorde, had already tried a simultaneous landing at Washington in 1976. But they touched down 70 seconds apart because of the heavy air traffic over Dulles International Airport that prevented the two planes from lining up correctly on their approach.

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Thanks to its two 12,000-foot-long runways that ran parallel to each other and because it had less air-traffic congestion, Orlando offered an ideal site for the 1982 landing.

The droop-nosed British and French planes approached from the south and touched down next to each other less than two seconds apart before a crowd estimated at 35,000.

According to, little-known fact about this stunt is that the airport however, was not built to handle the heat from Concorde. When they took off, they cooked the runway causing hundreds of thousands of dollars in damage. The airport was closed for over a week for emergency repairs.

Concorde used the most powerful pure jet engines (Four Rolls-Royce/SNECMA Olympus 593s, each producing 38,000lbs of thrust with reheat) flying commercially. The Aircraft’s four engines took advantage of what is known as ‘reheat’ technology, adding fuel to the final stage of the engine, which produced the extra power required for take-off and the transition to supersonic flight. 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.

Photo credit: Orlando International Airport (MCO)

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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