Needle Nose

In Chantilly, Virginia.

At the Udvar Hazy Center, an annex of the National Air and Space Museum near Dulles Airport outside of Washington, DC.

This is the nose of the Air France Concorde…one of just two supersonic commercial passenger jets (the other was the Russian Tupolev Tu-144).  As a big fan of all things speedy (roller coasters, cheetahs, supercars, Olympic sprinters), I’m amazed by this plane.  With a cruising speed of more than twice the speed of sound (about 1350 mph–fast enough to win the Indy 500 in 22 minutes), this plane must’ve been a thrill to fly on.  Though, at the high altitudes it reached, it’d be basically impossible to feel or judge how fast you’re really going (frames of reference are nonexistent or two small/far away to gauge relative speed).  Nonetheless, it would be amazing to get from point a to point b in less than half the time of a 747.

Many years ago on a US Airways flight, I was seated next to a pilot and one of the hundreds of questions I asked him was “What’s the dream assignment for a commercial pilot?” Without a second’s hesitation, he simply said “The Concorde.”  One of the reasons he stated was because completing the training program and being selected meant you were at the very top of the commercial pilot game, given the extra skills you needed to master to handle the aircraft, especially for takeoff and landing.  According to former Concorde pilot Tony Yule, it takes about 2 months to learn to fly a Boeing 747 but takes 6 months to learn the Concorde.

Retired in 2003, there’s a plan to bring it back in action…can’t wait!


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