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Concorde Lands for Good in Seattle

Tom Banse
11/06/2003

Thousands of Pacific Northwest residents craned their necks yesterday (WED) to see the final landing of a British Airways Concorde in Seattle. The supersonic jet is being added to the permanent collection of the Museum of Flight at Boeing Field. The Northwest museum is one of only four places outside of Europe where you can see a retired Concorde. Correspondent Tom Banse has more on the warm greeting accorded this piece of aviation history.

THE ARRIVAL OF THE SUPERSONIC CONCORDE BROUGHT TRAFFIC TO A STANDSTILL AROUND SEATTLE'S BOEING FIELD. SEVERAL THOUSAND ONLOOKERS BEARING CAMERAS AND CAMCORDERS AND WAVING UNION JACKS PRESSED IN ON BOTH SIDES OF THE RUNWAY.

Sound: [Concorde touchdown and cheer]

THE BRITISH AIRWAYS PILOTS SET A NEW RECORD FOR A FLIGHT BETWEEN NEW YORK TO SEATTLE, 3 HOURS AND FIFTY-FIVE MINUTES. THIS IS THE SAME PLANE THAT MADE THE FINAL COMMERCIAL SUPERSONIC FLIGHT BETWEEN NEW YORK AND LONDON LAST MONTH. THE PILOTS PULLS OFF THE RUNWAY TO BAGPIPE ACCOMPANIMENT AND DIPS THE NEEDLE NOSE SEVERAL TIMES TO THE GATHERED CROWD.

Sound: [Bagpipes]

THEN THE CAPTAIN HANDS OVER THE KEYS -- WELL, THE LOGBOOK TO BE PRECISE -- TO THE MUSEUM OF FLIGHT PRESIDENT RALPH BUFANO.

Bufano: "Bringing the Concorde to Seattle is a reminder that Washington State is the historic and future heart of commercial aviation."

BRITISH AIRWAYS SAYS IT PICKED THIS MUSEUM OVER 75 COMPETING SITES BECAUSE SEATTLE CAN BEST DISPLAY AND PRESERVE THE AVIATION ICON. THE AIRLINE'S LONG RELATIONSHIP WITH LOCAL JETMAKER BOEING CERTAINLY HELPED TOO. IRONICALLY, JUST DOWN THE STREET, BOEING MANAGERS IN THE LATE 1960'S DECIDED NOT TO BUILD A COMPETITOR TO THE BRITISH AND FRENCH-MADE BEAUTY. THE CONCORDE'S PILOTS SAY GOODBYE WITH A MIXTURE OF PRIDE AND ANGER. CAPTAIN LES BRODY CO-PILOTED THE FINAL FLIGHT.

Brody: "There's five years of life left in this airplane. It's a very young airplane. It's got only 5000 sectors on it where as it can go to 8500 sectors. That's the sad bit that we're having to ground an airplane that is perfectly serviceable just because of politics and economics."

BRITISH AIRWAYS AND AIR FRANCE RETIRED THEIR FLEETS BECAUSE THEY BECAME TOO COSTLY TO FLY AND MAINTAIN. THAT MEANS INSTEAD OF A FOUR TO FIVE THOUSAND DOLLAR AIRFARE, SOON A SIMPLE MUSEUM ADMISSION WILL GET YOU ON-BOARD THE CONCORDE.

Sound [tour guide]: Leather seats… This is the most sought after seat here, 1A. That's where you want to sit. It the rock stars seat…"

THESE COZY CONFINES OPEN FOR PUBLIC TOURS ON NOVEMBER 28TH. FRANK CLAN COULDN'T WAIT TILL THEN. HE CAME DOWN FROM VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA JUST TO GET A LOOK FROM THE OUTSIDE.

Clan: "It's something we'll probably never see again because I think it's not cost effective to fly an airliner like that.

HILDY WEBER OF WOODINVILLE, WASHINGTON BROUGHT HER KIDS TO THE RUNWAY TO SEE THE FINAL TOUCHDOWN.

Weber: "It's such a historical moment and it's something they will never see again. You know, I just thought, the Concorde really represented the future and here it is and it won't fly again!"

THESE NORTHWESTERNERS DOUBT COMMERCIAL SUPERSONIC TRAVEL WILL RESUME IN THEIR LIFETIMES. THE OTHER CONCORDES ON DISPLAY IN OUR HEMISPHERE CAN BE FOUND AT THE JET'S FORMER DESTINATIONS OF NEW YORK, WASHINGTON DC, AND THE ISLAND OF BARBADOS. I'M TOM BANSE IN SEATTLE.

01.16.18

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