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Old 24th Aug 2010, 11:02
  #90 (permalink)  
Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: FL 600. West of Mongolia
Posts: 462
Like so many in the Concorde family, I have millions, I'd like to share a couple here. I remember at Fairford in mid 1974, a CAA test pilot (I honestly forget the gentleman's name) was taking the British pre-production A/C 101 (G-AXDN) for a special test flight. The reason that this flight was so special was that for the first time, the CAA were going to do an acceptance flight trial of the brand new digital air intake system. This revolutionary system had been retro fitted to 101 barely a year earlier, and being a brand new (and totally unique, in electronics terms) system had been plagued with teething troubles. It was quite reasonable for any airworthiness authority to have serious misgivings about any system that was going to wave great big metal lumps around in front of the engine compressor face, and that if only a few degrees out from the commanded position out could cause the engine to 'backfire' etc.
So anyway, 101 took off and disappeared into the very blue sky and we waited, and waited, AND WAITED. (I'd only left the RAF and joined the project a few months previously, and did not want my new association with this amazing aircraft to end). I was biting my nails, drinking coffee, losing my hair... (without the help of M2V ). Anyway after about 2 1/2 hours the aircraft returned to Fairford, and everybody crowds around the crew for the debrief. A very stern faced CAA pilot looked at us all, broke into a grin and said "as far as I'm concerned gentlemen, you've got yourselves an airliner". At that point the room was a study of total happiness, blessed relief, and a need to go to the loo..... But from my point of view, I will remember those words forever.
101, which now resides at the Imperial War Museum Duxford was the fastest Concorde ever. She achieved Mach 2.23, which was an incredible irony, as Concorde can trace a large part of it's developement history back to the BAC 223, proposed SST.
As far as flying memories go, I just don't know where to start; My first ever Concorde flight was in November 1976, out of Fairford on a pre-delivery test flight on G-BOAD. (Now sadly bobbing up and down on the Hudson, next to the USS Intrepid). I was staggered how fast and high we flew (Mach 2.08, FL580). Most of my flying up to that date had been in C-130's in the RAF, at around 340 KTS and FL300; Concorde also being infinately quiter in flight than the good old Herc'. I remember a BA QA guy showing me how I could touch the skin of the aircraft at Mach 2 (You reached behind a door busstle flap, moved your hand through some insulation until you felt bare metal). OUCH!! it was hot, very hot.
But I think one of my most memorable flight memories was aboard G-BOAG, (now residing in the Boeing Museum of Flight in Seattle) returning from BKK, having stopped off to refuel in BAH. We were forced to fly subsonic over Saudi, and got caught in this amazing electrical storm, There was St Elmo's fire cracking and bubbling all over the visor panels, but just as incredible was the long blue electrical discharge coming off of the nose probe; it seemed to extend about 50' in front of the aircraft. The crime was, none of us on the F/D had a camera. Every time I bump into the captain on that day (are you reading this Ian?), we go back to remonissing about that incredible flight. Also, later on the same sector, after we had decelerated to subsonic cruise again, this time flying up the Adriatic, we had another fascinating sight: It was getting quite dark now, and here we were, travelling at Mach 0.95 at FL290, when above us was all this Mach 0.8 ish traffic at around FL330-350. All we could see were all these navigation and ant-coll' lights above us, seemingly travelling backwards. It was quite a sight. On the original BAH-BKK sector a week earlier, we flew through some of the coldest air I'd ever seen; The air was at ISA -25, and at Mach 2 our TAT was only about 85 deg's C. (You could feel the difference too; the cabin windows felt only warm-ish to the touch). The upside also of all this was that your fuel burn was much lower than usual. (The only downside of course is that your TAS is a little lower). Rolls Royce did some analysis on the flight, and were amazed at how well the propulsion systems coped with some of the temperature sheers that we encountered, sometimes 4 to 5 deg's/second. They said that the prototype AFCS had been defeated by rises of only 0.25 deg's/second ).
Not meaning to go off onto a (yet another) tangent; Negative temperature shears, very common at lower lattidudes, always plagued the development aircraft; you would suddenly accelerate, and in the case of a severe shear, would accelerate and accelerate!! (Your Mach number, quite naturaly, suddenly increased with the falling temperature of course, but because of the powerplant suddenly hitting an area of hyper-efficiencey, the A/C would physically accelerate rapidly, way beyond Mmo). Many modifications were tried to mitigate the effects of severe shears, in the end a clever change to the intake control unit software fixed it. (Thanks to this change the production series A/C would not be capable of level flight Mach numbers of any more than Mach 2.13, remembering that Mmo was set at 2.04).
There was one lovely story, involving the Shah of Iran, having one of MANY flights in a developmment aircraft. The aircraft encounterd quite a hefty series of temperature shears that plagued havoc with some Iranian F4's that were attempting to close on the Concorde, to act as an escort for the Shah. (or so the strory goes). I'm still trying to picture these F4's, on full afterburner trying to get close to a Concorde cruising away on dry power). It is said that the F4's were having such difficulties, due to their relatively crude powerplant, coping with the temperature changes, that the Concorde was ordered to slow down, 'so the escorting F4's could catch up'!! True or not, it is part of Concorde folklore.


Last edited by M2dude; 24th Aug 2010 at 14:31. Reason: spelling (again) :-(
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