Monday, September 21, 2015

Now boarding Concord and Tupolev Tu-144

Back in the early 1990's I missed the opportunity to ride on a Concord.  A trans-Atlantic trip was always out of my price range, but BA was running short one-hour trips out of Heathrow for like $200. They went out south over the Atlantic, broke the sound barrier, served you a glass of champagne, and landed back in London. I looked at it when I was in Paris in January of 1991, and said next year when I am in London. Then my midlife crisis intervened and by the time I was traveling again in 2000, the Concord was on it's last flights and the super deals to go faster than sound were a memory and history.  

I have seen the Concord on the wing, two of them landed in Orlando for the opening of EPCOT.  I have seen one close up in the Smithsonian collection at Dulles.  But I had never been in one until recently.  There is a Technology museum at Sinsheim Germany that has one on the roof, right behind a Tupolev Tu-144.  And they are open for boarding if you are up to the climb.  

Here they are on the roof of the Museum, see the spiral stairs near the tail? That is how you get in and out.

The museum removed about half of the seats, boxed the ones that remain in plastic cases and installed some grab rails to haul yourself up the isle and try to keep from tumbling down. This is the interior of the Concord as Air France flew it.  Not big, 2 and 2 seating, but 2-hours from New York to London.  From London to New York you arrived three hours before you left.  

This is the interior of the Tu-144.  Not as plush, about the same dimensions.  

You really don't get a sense of how steeply the planes are mounted.  It is a major climb up the stairs and then up the isle.  I made all the way to the front of the Concord, only about half way up the Tu-144.  But, hey, I can say I have boarded two of the rarest and most exotic passenger aircraft ever built.

1 comment:

  1. I remember the air france jet taking off from dulles every day (early 90s). I was working nearby at the time; when that plane revved up its jets, you could hear them INSIDE the building! so we would go outside and watch the plane take off and POOF it was gone.