2003-4-17
BA002 JFK-LHR
Concorde SSC G-BOAG
0900 JFK 1800 LHR

"My Ultimate Flight Experience"
Cruising 58000 ft and Mach 2.0 (1350mph) jetset in style!

Trip Report
By Sam Chui--The Professional Worldwide Traveller!
Photos: Nikon D100

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Honestly, I wasn't that mad about Concorde until the day of announcement about retirement of this precious bird. I have the urge to do something about it, looking back from now, I still can't believe I've done it!

I made the booking on Concorde 2 days after heard the news that both BA and AF will be terminating their service by October this year. (AF by 31May, and BA in early Oct) At first, I wasn't all particularly interested to do the flight but due to my sleeping disorder, I stayed all night to think about it for some reason. I rang BA in US office to ask about the special deal , it was USD2999+ tax one way on Concorde and one way on World Traveller (Economy) back between New York and London! I thought it was a very good deal at only half of the normal ticket price on Concorde and coincidently I am going to New York for my Easter vacation, and most of you knows Concorde only fly to a few limited destinations, so New York is spot on for me to get on her! After some thoughts, I still can't make up my mind since I need to stay at UK for 3 days if doing the trip and will be missed out the slide night and catch up with the boys in New York.

Not until my friend Art Brett from NJ on the phone told me this, "Sam, we'll be here longer than the plane, she won't be here after October, your decision!" I sort of realize getting on Concorde will not be possilbe in a few months time and hence I made the quick booking the next hour on the phone through NY office of BA. (@ 2 am in Sydney!) The reservation lady "Maria" was particular outgoing and kind, arranged ticket to be paid in Australian dollar and pick up available anytime at BA Sydney office. Well, I've got 3 days to spare before leaving home to NY after I made the confirmed booking. I didn't sleep well the following two nights and was very excited and nervous about my upcoming adventure on Concorde.

I flown into New York the night before on 16April, all the way from Sydney on United Airlines (thats a incredible long 21 hr flights through a change and custom clearing at SFO). Slept 6 hrs the night in Radisson JFK hotel and woke up on time at 6:30am for the hotel shuttle at 7:00am to Terminal 7 where BA operates out of JFK. The terminal have been totally refitted and Concorde have its own dedicated check-in counter of course! No queue and I checked bags and documents through within 5 mins and got Seat 12D which is the second row in the second cabin. (Not a bad seat!)

Here is a photo of the Concorde check-in area in JFK, quiet huh? 
 

And after check-in, I proceeded to security checkpoint, I took off my shoes and laptop out of the bag for screening, "okay, very good" no body search this time! I proceeded to the Concorde Room. Here is a few photos of its features.
 
 


The Enterance

Spacious seating area!
Breakfast area.You can see the jetway you can borad the plane straight from the Concorde Lounge! 

The above photos pretty much represent the Concorde Room in JFK (Lot simpler than in BA homebase LHR), the downside of the lonuge, is it haven't got any computer yet, you can bring a laptop and use the dataport to dial US access no. to go online (which I did). The breakfast was self-serve buffet, consist of pastries, breads, fruits, smoked salmon, grilled tomato, baked beans, english sausages and eggs and a bartender serves your favourite drinks. I like the idea of pre-dining. The chair I sat on (see photos of me) was so comfortable, that I am seriously considering to buy one, don't let the slick design look drive you away!

Now, "BA002 Supersonic flight to London is ready to board, please proceed to Gate 6 for immediate boarding!" from the speakerphone. We proceeded to Gate 6 to board. See photos.
 
 





I know, the door looks small!

The cabin was really like a tube, pretty narrow and windows are tiny. Quite interestingly, it dosen't give people the feeling of too cramp and after I sat down I feel actually quite roomy. The new design of the leather chair are maverlous, comfortable and elegant! I sat at 12D, which is the second row (after Row11) of the rear cabin. I can see the wall mounted speed and altimeter ready to go! We have 54 passengers in total out of 100 available seats. The front cabin was packed and aft cabin was beautiful with only 16 passenger sharing 60 seats!
 
 
Narrow Tube but not cramp! Only a handful of passenger in the rear cabin! This is the screen mounted onto the wall near Row 11, it shows you the speed, altitude, temparture after take off!

As the aircraft taxies out to the Runway, the captain welcomes everyone aboard. The in-flight briefing is far more detailed than the usual captain's announcement on a subsonic plane, as it is necessary to explain how the aircraft performs, as shortly after take-off there is a very noticeable deceleration when the reheats on the Rolls-Royce Olympus engines are extinguished.

According to my log sheet the Captain filled in, we left the gate 1 minute earlier at 0859 with STD at 0900. We taxied for 17 minutes to Rwy13R for takeoff (rare event!!). Rwy13R/31L is the longest runway available in JFK and they use it a lot on takeoffs! The takeoff roll was regular, bit loud from the engines but notibly lot faster than a subsonic plane, we took about 3/4 length of the 14000ft runway to become airborne, and now, you will feel about the steepness of climbing and the fastness! (the planes made a quick bank to the right to fly towards the ocean) Just look through the window, see the buildings underneath moving, you can tell how fast the plane is moving at just after takeoff, it took no more than a few minutes for us to pass Long Island and we went into the clouds for a while and lost all the ground sights eventually within 5 minutes after tookoff.

Here is some statistics from the electronic panel indicator I collected:

Mach 0.77 @ 15500 feet
Mach 1.00 (The speed of sound) @ 27000 feet
Mach 1.51 @ 40000 feet
Mach 1.75 @ 43000 feet
Mach 1.83 @ 45000 feet
Mach 1.92 @ 47000 feet
Mach 2.00 @ 48500 feet
Mach 2.00 @ 56500 feet and we stayed @ 56000 feet for about 2 hour.

The fastest speed at one time we're doing was 1390 MPH (Concorde cruising speed is 1350 MPH)
The highest altitude we reached was 58000 feet.

I feel quite warm of the wall, I understand Concorde metal stretech about 10 inches between flights and outside temperature are extremely hot, the wall is just little warm, but notibly different from a subsonic plane.

One very interesting question raised by Yevgeny Pashnin and Joe Pries from NY was, when you flown over Mach 1.0 , i.e.  the speed of sound, you break the sound barrier, do you hear any noise (boom)? I don't remember, but I don't think I heard anything particularly loud. I welcome all your comments and experiences.

(Edited)Here is a response from David Kaufman from IL.  concerning the "boom"
 

-- Books and articles on the Concorde and on supersonic flight state that no
particular special sound is heard on board as the aircraft becomes
supersonic.  However, in general terms, there tends to be a bit more
buffeting and pitch changes as the speed transitions to supersonic.

-- Many people are under the misimpression that the "sonic boom" is only
made when an aircraft crosses into supersonic.  Actually, the supersonic
shock wave is continuously generated through the entire supersonic flight,
and observers everywhere along the flight path will hear a boom as the shock
wave passes them.  That is why Concorde is only operated supersonically over
oceans.  Ships on the North Atlantic routinely hear the boom, which is more
like a gradually increasing then decreasing loud rumble when the SST is at
its cruise altitudes.
 

For the return to service, BA introduced new Concorde seats in ink-blue Connolly leather and fabric. They feature a unique cradle mechanism, footrest and contoured head-rest to give added comfort and support. The new seat are 20% lighter, leading to almost 1 million pound a year in fuel efficiencies. The seats are 17.25 inches (43.8cm) wide and offer 7 inches of recline and 37 pitch (94cm) pitch.

Photos below are in order sequence, from left to right, top to bottom.
 










In-flight Service starts about after 20 mins of tookoff. @ about 27000 feet.
 
 

Drinks and refreshment were dished out fastly! Appetizer was Caviar!

Here is the full scan of the 6 page Menu! (It may take a while to download)


 
 

Here is some more photos of the cabin, after the very delicious (of course coz its your money) meal service, I chose the Lobster Cake for main but was unavailable, so I have the chicken. I walked around the cabin after meal, it was a sheer pleasure to do anything on board the Concorde really!

The Service was very English and formal, crews were outgoing, polite and efficient, they smile at you everytime when you look at them! After all, I think what you get is because of what you paid!
 
 

View from the rear! Galley at the rear of the plane! This could well be the most interesting photo I took onboard, see it looks like a spaceship and use your imagination, do you see the curavture of the earth??


37 seat pitch, but when you recline the seat, the whole chair recline, not just the back cushion. You feel very comfortable by all means!

Our total flying time accroding to my log sheet is 3 hour and 18 minutes, approximatly 30 minutes before arrival, the plane slow down and return to subsonic speed but still slightly faster than subsonic planes approaching. The Captain announced this, "The weather in London is very UNSEASONAL, we have 26 degrees celcius, and sunny sky condition" YOU BEAUTY, this is the best thing I've ever heard!

Here is some scenes when we're descending into London, the wind is easterly, so we are landing on Rwy 09L. The engines roar aloud in reverse thrust and shortly after, the aircraft decelerates to taxi speed for the stand. The time factor with Concorde is truly striking!
We landed at 1735, 25 minutes early, when coming into London, saw the beautiful blue sky is like won a battle, after landed we slowed down to taxi back to T4. I felt in such glory and proudness that I can't express my feelings furthermore! We arrived at gate about 1753 about 7 minutes before the Stated Time Arrivals. (STA)

I was told later that fellow Airliners.net photographer Matthew Willmott-Sharp from London that day shoted my arrivals. To see my flights arriving into LHR on 09L.
Click here or http://www.airliners.net/open.file/341556/L/
 
 
 

Windsor Castle Busy Motorway of London! Cabin view after all other passengers deplaned! Very sophiscated interior!

Sara was the most attractive FA of BA Concorde we have that day! I was allowed to go outside to take a photo of her after deplaned. See how small the window is!

Captain Mike Bannister flown the BA002 that day, he is the Chief BA Concorde Pilot and Chief BA pilot for short hauls, this really was a huge plus to my flight, since the cabin crew told me he don't fly much. He was very famous and constantly appears on TV acts as BA Concorde spokesperson and was a key force behind the return of service of the Concorde after the Paris tragic accident. I have about 5 minutes of pleasure to chat with Capt Bannister and he signed the menu, logbook and showed me around the cockpit.
 
 


BA Chief Pilot for short hauls and Chief Concorde Pilot: Captain Mike Bannister!

It amazes me although the 70s design of cockpit, the plane itself never ceases to amaze me! Nothing wrong with the oldies! The control handle more looks like a motorbike control, pretty cool looking!






After Thoughts:

Well, I was ecstatic and over cloud nine after all and met the Captain. I still enjoyed the moments I have onboard and even now I can still pictured everything on the flight clearly and unmistakenly. Interestingly, on the financial side,  the cash burn (cause quite a dent on my wallet for sure) rate get on the Concorde is about 900USD per hour, or 15USD per minute. At the end, I think the money I paid  to get on the Concorde was worth every cent of it and there are simply NO better way to fly than the Concorde! It had been a great, spectacular ride that I wish I can do it one more time! Thank you Concorde and BA for the opportunity! It is all good and sweet lovely memory now!

Sam
April 30 2003

You can email me (click here) if you have any particular interest or comments

Please click here to visit what people said about the report.
 

Here is my flight Log sheet filled in my the captain and certificate (unfilled) of riding the "greatest plane on earth"!!

After the flight, the crew gave me a generic certificate, but signed by a different pilot.


 

Special Thanks to Bellerophon for his kindness to get my "Real" Concorde certificate, signed by all 3 crews of that day!
Thanks a million!


 
 

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