The Concorde Story
Let me begin this book review by giving a little background. When I saw that IPMS received this book from Osprey Publishing, I jumped at the chance to review it. The reason for my excitement to doing this review is that back in 1995 I was working part time as a courier, this entailed traveling all over the world delivering different packages that needed hand delivery and were time sensitive. One day I got a call at my office to go to Dublin, Ireland via Atlanta. That evening I flew to Atlanta to meet another courier and accept the shipment for Dublin. The other courier did not meet me on time to make my connecting flight to Dublin and the courier office told me to bring the package back to NY and that I would take the 9:00am British Airways Concorde flight the next day.
Needless to say, I didn’t sleep a wink in anticipation of this flight. It had always been my desire to fly on the Concorde since I saw two low flights of it each morning and two in the evening from my office.
On arrival at JFK I was escorted to the special Concorde lounge and served an elaborate breakfast made to order. I was given a Concorde portfolio and wallet as a memento of my flight. This was only the beginning of my adventure.
Once I was on the aircraft I was astonished by how small it was inside. The seating was two by two with limited overhead compartments. We taxied out to take off and all other aircraft made way for our flight. The takeoff was really quick with a steep angle of attack. Once over the Atlantic Ocean the pilot told us he was going into reheat (afterburner). I felt a slight kick as they started and we soon were at Mach 2 or about 1350 MPH. There was absolutely no feeling of the speed we were going. I must mention that we were at 55,000 ft. altitude and at that height you could begin to see the curve of the earth from the tiny windows on the Concorde.
The service was great and our filet mignon steaks were made to order along with many other amenities. I asked to go into the cockpit and was surprised to see just how small it was. There was barely enough room for the pilot, co-pilot and engineer.
At the end of the flight we landed at Heathrow and I couldn’t believe the speed we landed at and the angle of attack. This was truly an experience I am glad I had and wish I could do again. I found out later that the one way cost my courier company over $4,000.
Now on to the book review:
This book was written by Christopher Orlebar who was a pilot for British Airways, became a Concorde pilot in 1969 and instructor in 1976. He flew the Concorde for 10 years and retired in 2000.
The book is a large format printed in high quality glossy paper. The photography is outstanding with a complete history of the Concorde from the early days of supersonic flight to the development stage to the retirement of all of the Concords. It covers the troubles it had to overcome in the development, and the noise problems it had at some of the airports it was to fly into. There are chapters covering other supersonic airliners and the training of a Concorde pilot. It covers the Concorde in other airline liveries with some wonderful photos.
The author also covered the tragic crash of an Air France Concorde at Gonesse which grounded all Concorde for a time until the problem that caused the crash could be overcome.
Mr. Orlebar also covered the Concorde’s return to service, its Grand Finale and the aftermath. I thought the many photographs in this book were outstanding and could be used as a reference for anyone building a model of the Concorde. I especially liked the photos of the Concorde flying in formation with Britain’s Red Arrows. I wish I could have seen this flight in person.
Overall, I just loved this book. The author really knew what he was writing about. He covered everything about this beautiful aircraft. It’s just a shame that it’s not still flying. I am very grateful that I got a chance to fly on it.
I wish to thank Osprey Publishers for giving IPMS this fine book to review and John Noack for giving it to me to write the review. I would highly recommend this book to anyone interested in commercial aviation.