23 Jun

As an aeroplane enthusiast I had followed the Concorde story and had thrilled at the TV pictures of her test flights. Later I got to go on board one of those prototypes at the museum in Yeovilton, but it was not until later that my love affair with her began.

In 1984 I left home one Sunday to live in digs in Swindon to start a new job and pending a move of house. It was a bright early evening as I walked out of the station and I was feeling somewhat down at leaving my family behind. As I walked across the station forecourt I heard a rolling thunder in the sky and looked up. Used to the fast jets that we saw a lot of in East Anglia I knew to look ahead of the sound and fully expected to see an American military jet out of Fairford just to the north, but no, it was Concorde storming west. The sight of her with the setting sun reflecting off her belly was a joy and lifted my spirits.

Over the coming weeks I got used to her outbound schedule for the normal route was straight over the town and I knew when to look out for her. As the months turned into years I would go out into my garden to watch the eastern sky to see if I could spot her before I could hear her. She became a talisman.

As time went by I began to fly to Belfast, Glasgow and Edinburgh from Heathrow and saw her take off from the northern runway many times, blasting past me as I put my bag into my car in the business car park alongside the airport fence. She was always a joy to behold even if she did set many of the car alarms off to salute her departure.

I didn’t get to fly in her though and memories of the day of the Paris crash still bring back a sick feeling. I was in London that day having come up by train and I saw the headlines on the placards at Old Street station. I had lost a friend.

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