diamond geezer

 Thursday, October 23, 2003

Time travel

Mach 2Today sees Concorde's very last commercial flight from London to New York. More about Concorde's demise tomorrow but, before this particular journey disappears forever, here's the timeline for a typical transatlantic supersonic journey.

Late afternoon A motley assortment of the rich, the famous, the botoxed and Sir David Frost gather in the posh lounge at Heathrow to be dripfed Pol Roger champagne by perma-grinned waitresses.
18:15 Everyone parades onto the plane, crowding into 25 rows each only four seats wide. All the tourists promptly make themselves known by nicking the in-flight magazines as souvenirs.
18:30 British Airways flight 001 departs Terminal 4 and taxis towards the runway. You could probably run faster.
18:45 UK time Four Rolls Royce engines kick into action and Concorde lifts off from Heathrow at 250mph. On board the maraschino cherries vibrate slightly.
19:00 Concorde has been climbing at half a mile a minute, heading up towards a cruising altitude of 11 miles. Only fighter pilots and astronauts fly higher.
19:05 The plane accelerates until it catches up with its own sound waves, creating the infamous sonic boom. The yellow LCD display in the cabin reads Mach 1. Regular passengers fail to notice.
19:35 Concorde is now travelling at 1350mph, more than twice the speed of sound. On board two passengers have just proposed marriage while the rest are now busy pilfering the safety instruction cards.
20:15 The highest cordon bleu restaurant in the world continues to fly westward. Due to heating of the airframe, Concorde is now eight inches longer than when it took off.
21:00 Just as well that the flight time for this journey is so short because there are no in-flight movies to watch, just tanned celebs bitching.
21:45 Concorde slows down to Mach 0.95 as it makes landfall over America. Last orders please, the high life is almost over.
22:10 UK time, 17:10 NY time Touchdown at JFK and, because Concorde flies faster than the Earth rotates, everyone has arrived in New York before they left London. That's why it costs £4000 a trip, you know.
17:25 Concorde noses into the terminal building. If you're a celeb then your chauffeur awaits and it's off to be a big cheese in the Big Apple. If you're a pleb then your signed photo awaits and it's back to London in economy on the red eye, no doubt with a bagful of cutlery ready to sell on eBay.

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