Princess witnesses dramatic moment as iconic plane’s ‘droop nose’ lowered for first time since November 2003.
Aerospace Bristol, home to the last Concorde ever to fly, has celebrated the fiftieth anniversary of Concorde’s first British flight with a dinner attended by HRH The Princess Royal, patron of the museum.
Delivered in partnership with Airbus, the Concorde50 gala dinner was held under the wings of the supersonic passenger jet in Aerospace Bristol’s Concorde Hangar, on the edge of the historic Filton Airfield. It was from there that Concorde first took to the skies from British soil on 9th April 1969, and landed for the final time on 26th November 2003.
Fittingly, it was the pilot of that final flight, Captain Les Brodie, who returned to the flight deck and – as Her Royal Highness and distinguished guests looked on – operated the controls to lower and raise Concorde’s droop nose and activate her landing lights. The manoeuvre was possible thanks to careful restoration work by Aerospace Bristol’s conservation team and volunteers, with Concorde smoothly returning to motion as if waking for the first time since touching down more than 15 years ago.
Professor Iain Gray CBE, chair of Aerospace Bristol, said:
“I am most grateful to Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal, patron of Aerospace Bristol, for so kindly accepting our invitation to join us in celebrating the fiftieth anniversary of Concorde. The iconic Concorde was an engineering marvel, developed far ahead of its time by talented engineers working on the cutting-edge of 1960s technology. Through our exhibition, inspiring workshops for schools, and Concorde50 events, it is this spirit of innovation that Aerospace Bristol aims to ignite in the engineers of the next fifty years and beyond, encouraging the young people of today to develop the big ideas of tomorrow.”
Katherine Bennett, senior vice-president of Airbus, said:
“Concorde has a special place in Airbus’ heart and history. Many of its innovations, from electronic flight controls to anti-skid braking systems, helped inform future aircraft designs. We also maintained the aircraft at Filton for more than ten years after its final flight.”
“To see the aircraft once again at the centre of celebration, helping inspire the next generation of engineers, is fantastic, particularly as we are fast approaching Airbus’ own 50 year milestone which is a celebration of everyone who has the courage to be bold and improve things, just as Concorde did.”
• Aerospace Bristol is located off Hayes Way, Patchway. Find out more at aerospacebristol.org
This article originally appeared in the May 2019 issue of the Bradley Stoke Journal magazine (on pages 16 & 17). The magazine is delivered FREE, EVERY MONTH (except August), to ALL 8,700 homes in Bradley Stoke. Phone 01454 300 400 to enquire about advertising or leaflet insertion.