19 Years On: The Story Of Concorde’s Final Flight

On November 26, 2003, Concorde 216 G-BOAF flew from London Heathrow Airport to Bristol Filton Airport. The flight, which lasted only an hour and thirty minutes, was the last of the Concorde fleet.

Back to where it all began

Photo: Getty Images

Cruising at over twice the speed of sound, at an altitude of 60,000 feet, the Concorde was a technological marvel. In a world where colored-televisions were introduced not too long ago, the Concorde’s development program in 1962 was a huge leap in progress.

Its time in service marked a significant period in aviation history, but sadly came to an inevitable end. The last of 20 Concordes to be built, Concorde 216, made its maiden flight on April 20, 1979. It was built without a customer but was eventually sold to British Airways. The aircraft was re-registered as G-BOAF (also commonly referred to as Concorde Alpha Foxtrot).

Concorde British Airways

Photo: Getty Images.

The delivery flight was made from Filton to Heathrow on June 12, 1980. Alpha Foxtrot would go on the become the last Concorde ever to fly, ending the era of commercial supersonic air travel.

The rise and fall

While the Concorde is unmistakably known for its supersonic capabilities, Alpha Foxtrot, in particular, achieved the milestone of the fastest Trans-Atlantic flight by a commercial airliner. The aircraft flew from New York to London in under two hours and 57 minutes. It held the record for five years until it was beaten by – none other than – another Concorde.

British Airways Aerospatiale BAC Concorde on final-approach at sunset

Photo: Getty Images

Unfortunately, despite all its fanfare, the Concorde fleet’s retirement loomed following declining passenger numbers, spurred by fears surrounding the September 11 attacks. Many also believe that the Concorde crash in 2000, in which all on board were killed (along with four people on-ground), accelerated the fleet’s retirement. Furthermore, increasing prices meant that the already-high operating costs were bound to be even more costly if the fleet continued to be operated.

On April 10, 2003, Air France and British Airways announced they would retire the Concorde later that year.

One last flight

Concorde 216 Getty

Photo: Getty Images

After 23 years of service – and having logged 18,257 hours of flight time – Concorde Alpha Foxtrot made one last flight. By then, it had flown 6,045 times, of which, 5,639 were supersonic flights. Coming full circle, the last route flown by Concorde 216 was the return route of its first flight: London Heathrow to Bristol Filton Airport.

On the flight deck were Chief Pilot Captain Mike Bannister, Captain Les Brodie, and Captain Paul Douglas. Also on board were Senior Flight Engineers Warren Hazleby and Trevor Norcott. The flight ferried 100 British Airways employees.

Resting place

Concorde Alpha Foxtrot at Aerospace Bristol

Photo: Aerospace Bristol

In 2017, 14 years after it flew for the last time, Concorde 216 was moved across the Filton Airfield to a new purpose-built hangar at Aerospace Bristol, an aerospace museum. Here, the legendary aircraft is showcased as the centerpiece attraction. Its legacy lives on in the interactive exhibit where visitors can experience a hands-on encounter aboard the aircraft.

Have you ever flown on a Concorde? Share your experiences in the comments below!

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