Supersonic Service – A Day In The Life Of Concorde Crew

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Immediately recognisable, instantly eye-catching, unspeakably elegant, Concorde is just essentially the most iconic plane of all time. No passenger airplane has captured peoples creativeness as magnificently as Concorde.

The plane took to the skies on March 2, 1969. Regardless of orders from quite a few airways together with Pan Am, Trans World Airways and Lufthansa solely 20 of those supersonic jets have been ever constructed. Financial, environmental and political objections meant that simply 14 entered industrial service – seven with British Airways (BA) and 7 with Air France(AF).

For a few years the plane was the pleasure of its respective operators fleets. Each British Airways and Air France launched their very own ‘Concorde Class’ the place passengers have been handled to unparalleled ranges of service. From non-public airport lounges, beautiful onboard eating with rigorously curated menus together with foie-gras, caviar and lobster; to its personal elite cabin crew – Concorde had all of it.

British Airways even launched its personal Concorde uniform, designed by Hardy Amies in 1976.

Its space-age, pencil like fuselage meant its inside was extremely cosy for each passengers and crew. Cut up in to 2 cabins, the entrance sat forty passengers plus sixty within the rear and with a centre aisle simply 16 inches huge, it was an actual squeeze for crew finishing up the beautiful inflight service.

However what Concorde lacked in area it definitely made up for it within the passenger expertise, heightened by the brief journey time, refinements in consolation, high inflight facilities and the occasional sing-along with a well-known music star.

British Airways Concorde Captain Mike Bannister with Sting in 2001

The crew included six flight attendants, two pilots and a flight engineer and within the time it took for a crew member to refill a glass of Laurent Perrier champagne, the jet and its fortunate occupants, had already travelled 10 miles.

Sadly, because the saying goes ‘all good issues should come to an finish’. Regardless of Concordes unrivalled success, the sheer pleasure it instilled among the many British and French and the glitz and glamour of its movie star jet-set way of life the sleek hen couldn’t fly on without end.

On July 25, 2000 Concorde suffered its first ever deadly crash in its 27 years of operations. All 109 crew and passengers onboard Air France flight 4590 have been killed, in addition to 4 individuals on the bottom, after the jet hit particles on the runway throughout its take-off roll at Paris Charles De Gaulle Airport. The particles burst a tyre, punctured a gas tank and the following fireplace and engine failure resulted within the plane crashing in to a lodge two minutes after take off.

The accident dealt a devastating blow to an already ageing fleet. The occasions of 9/11 solely exasperated the aircrafts precarious place at Air France and British Airways.

Concordes final flight departed from New York John F. Kennedy Airport for Heathrow on October 24, 2003. Air France had retired their fleet again in June. The ultimate flight was stuffed with celebrities, Joan Collins being one in all them, who described the retirement as “a tragedy, truthfully a tragedy”.

BA Concorde Cabin Companies Director Claire Sullivan October 24, 2003.

To see Concorde fly was to witness that uncommon, dynamic mixture of pure magnificence, combined with the uncooked power and energy of supersonic flight. Flying on it as a passenger for these fortunate ones that did was an expertise by no means to be forgotten.

However what was it wish to work on Concorde as Cabin Crew?

Julie Reynolds was one of many elite few that did. Her profession at British Airways started in 1977 and, aged simply 18 years and 4 days she turned the youngest flight attendant in BA historical past.

Julie Reynolds.

Right here she tells us what life was actually like engaged on ‘The Conc’.

So inform us somewhat about your Concorde journey, how did all of it start?

Nicely, my Concorde journey began on Excessive Road, Brentford after I noticed Concorde fly overhead as I walked on my option to my grandparents’ home. I’d all the time had an curiosity in aeroplanes from an early age and watched them getting in to Heathrow – however this was totally different. It seemed totally different, sounded totally different and it made my again tingle. I bear in mind considering on the time – WOW! I used to be utterly in awe of this stunning, beautiful plane. I didn’t have any ideas at that second about engaged on it, however I used to be simply blown away by how spectacular it was.

A few years later, after I’d been at British Airways for about 10 years, a good friend of mine instructed me they have been recruiting for the Concorde Fleet and stated I ought to apply. After some encouragement from pals, I utilized and received in! We needed to apply in writing for the job, after which I used to be shortlisted for an interview. It was somewhat intimidating, however I stored going as a result of I wished it a lot. A few weeks later I received a letter telling me I used to be in. I used to be completely delighted and shortly realised how really fortunate I used to be. The remainder is historical past, and after I look again on the job and the chance it gave me, I really feel so proud and fortunate to have served on the plane.

How lengthy did you’re employed on Concorde?

I used to be fortunate sufficient to work on Concorde for eight years – from 1987 to 1995. These of us who labored on Concorde labored on different plane as properly. In my case, I labored on the 757, and the 737.

What was your coaching for Concorde like and the way did it differ from different plane?

The conversion course was a few week lengthy. The service on the time consisted of a hand-run bar with the meals delivered from a trolley, with one other crew member following behind with the wines and Champagne. We needed to study a variety of issues we weren’t accustomed to doing on different plane. We needed to study concerning the distinctive traits of Concorde, for instance; the a lot shorter flight occasions throughout the Atlantic; the fast acceleration and charge of climb, and usually being conscious of the efficiency variations in contrast with different plane. We needed to find out about managing the constitution providers, and coaching within the etiquette of addressing Royalty, VIPs and celebrities usually. Moreover, it was bodily a really totally different plane – no different plane had wings that went virtually from entrance to again as an example, so a variety of it was new, or totally different and needed to be realized. It was all extremely fascinating and made the job a lot extra thrilling from day one.

What was an everyday day on Concorde like?

That was among the best issues about ‘The Conc’ – there was by no means a ‘common day’! We reported an hour and a half earlier than take-off, which is regular for many flights. The briefing, boarding and gear checks have been similar to all the opposite plane. Usually there could be a variety of excessive profile prospects on board so we might be briefed as to their particular necessities on board.

Except for the distinction in service ranges, how totally different was it to work on Concorde compared to different plane?

On no different passenger plane may you look out of the window and see the curvature of the Earth.

No different passenger plane may take you, routinely, to 55,000ft. But when it felt prefer it, it may take you to 60,000ft.

On no different passenger plane may you’re feeling that magnificent, virtually horrifying kick-in-the-back acceleration down the runway as you took off.

What different plane may drop you in to JFK New York – an hour earlier than you left London Heathrow?

No different passenger plane may ‘chase the solar’.

Solely Concorde used afterburners on takeoff…

And nonetheless, in spite of everything these years, no different plane you’ve got labored on would provide the reward and the fun of regularly being requested what life was like engaged on Concorde.

From royalty to rock stars, inform us somewhat about your Concorde passengers.

There have been so many great individuals who travelled with us however they didn’t need to be celebrities to be a favorite of ours. We had a lot enjoyable and pleasure from all kinds of people that simply shared our love of The Rocket. Our Around the World journey was an absolute blast from begin to end, and the passengers weren’t celebrities, they have been on a regular basis individuals who have been maybe celebrating their retirement or simply loved throwing all the cash they’d on a bucket checklist bash on Concorde!

Each cabin crew will inform you that we get all sorts of passengers on all flights – it’s a part of the job. However you simply put into motion your 5 star coaching. The customer support we ship on board is what defines us within the job. It’s a part of the problem of the job – but in addition what makes prospects come again. Name me quaint, nevertheless it’s this precept, this mantra that I work with nonetheless, and encourage my groups to do the identical.

What’s your favorite reminiscence of your time on Concorde?

My head is filled with comfortable reminiscences from my Concorde years, however in all probability the perfect of all was my ‘Spherical The World’ journey I did in 1990 on G-BOAC. I used to be a part of this journey for simply over two weeks, sharing the expertise with a fully fabulous crew who made the entire journey so unforgettable. We began at London Gatwick, and we passengered to Dallas, Fort Price. We had a couple of days there earlier than we picked up the plane and our passengers for the journey. We flew from Dallas to Las Vegas to re-fuel, then flew from Vegas to Honolulu. We spent a couple of days in Honolulu, then on to Fiji for one more gas cease, then on to Sydney. We spent a couple of days in Sydney the place we have been included in some occasions with the passengers – together with a Champagne Reception at The Sydney Opera Home, adopted by taking a really particular seat to observe the play; The Significance of Being Ernest. We flew from Sydney to Bali for a fast gas cease, then off to Hong Kong. After that, we handed the aeroplane and our passengers over to a different crew who continued the journey onto India and Africa. We then passengered residence to London Heathrow the place, two weeks later, we met with Alpha Charlie and our passengers once more to take them on their last leg of their tour again to the USA.

What made this journey such a wonderful reminiscence was that it was such nice enjoyable; we constructed great relationships with the crew and the passengers; we noticed some fabulous locations, together with the Sydney Opera Home and the Taronga Zoo; the South Fork Ranch in Dallas (from the TV collection, ‘Dallas’ after all!); we went on a junk boat journey throughout Hong Kong, and we have been all given these stunning ‘Leis’ by the individuals of Honolulu! We had such a wonderful time, nevertheless it additionally made G-BOAC, ‘Alpha Charlie’ my favorite Concorde – so you may perceive how delighted I used to be to study that, though saddened by the retirement of the fleet, she could be based mostly at Manchester Airport – lower than 4 miles away from my residence!

What was/is your favorite plane to work on throughout your time at BA?

Nicely, clearly my love of Concorde is unrivalled, however a detailed second and my present favorite is the 747: The Queen of The Skies. From a logistical viewpoint, she is the perfect plane to work on. A great deal of area and room to work in, all the things may be very intuitive and easy to function. From a softer, extra non secular perspective, she is simply such a lovely, magnificent aeroplane to take a look at and be with. She has her personal persona that provides you the sensation that she is succesful, in management and might deal with any scenario. It was on a 747 journey that made me fill with tears of pleasure, after I was taking off for the primary time on my return to BA after a break of a number of years to deliver up my youngest kids.

What do you miss essentially the most about The Concorde Years?

For me personally, the exclusivity, the individuality, and the true buzz of flying on such a spectacular plane, and dealing with crew who have been all lovers.

A lot of the constitution flights we did could be scheduled to incorporate going supersonic in some unspecified time in the future, so even on a ‘Spherical The Bay’ journey (LHR-LHR by way of the Bay of Biscay) we might attain supersonic speeds. These have been unimaginable flights the place we’d give the passengers Champagne, a meal, a go to into the flight deck and a certificates signed by the flight crew, commemorating their flight and going supersonic – all in about an hour and a half!

However I nonetheless love flying – journey is a lot extra accessible now for everybody, a variety of the mystique has been taken away. The seats again then weren’t half as comfortable as they’re now, and also you’d solely get the selection of hen or beef for dinner – no veggie choice.

And eventually…

Concorde was the gold customary of aviation. It’s her fiftieth Anniversary this 12 months and I’m trying ahead to assembly Alpha Charlie once more, on the 2nd March at Manchester Airport.

G-BOAC on the Manchester Airport Runway Customer Park.

It’s a fantastic 12 months this 12 months, because it’s additionally British Airways’ one hundredth birthday. I’m so glad and proud that I’m nonetheless flying and right here to rejoice it. I used to be the youngest cabin crew member to affix British Airways, and the airline, Concorde and me, all have ‘vital’ birthdays this 12 months.

Appears like I’ve received one other excuse to be pouring Champagne – however this time into my very own glass! Cheers!

Cheers certainly Julie! I’d similar to to say a MASSIVE thanks to Julie who took outing of her extremely busy schedule to do that interview for us. I actually am really grateful to you for giving us an perception in to this unimaginable plane.

I need to additionally thank Julie’s husband Chris and in addition Anya from the British Airways press workplace, whose assist with this has been invaluable!

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