17 Years Ago The Last Concorde Built Flew To Retirement
The very last Concorde to roll off the production line took its final flight 17 years ago today.…
The very last Concorde to roll off the production line took its final flight 17 years ago today. Not only was this the last flight of G-BOAF, it was also the very last time a Concorde would take to the skies.
A sad goodbye
On November 26th, 2003, crowds gathered in two parts of the UK to witness the end of a chapter of aviation. G-BOAF was gearing up to depart from London’s Heathrow Airport one last time. It was not only to be the retirement flight for Alpha Foxtrot, the last Concorde off the production line; it was also the final time the world would ever see any Concorde in flight.
#OnThisDay 2003 #Concorde's final flight (from @HeathrowAirport to @BristolAero) pic.twitter.com/dBkJJ0C0SJ
— Max Kingsley-Jones (@MaxK_J) November 26, 2020
Alpha Foxtrot left Heathrow at 11:30 in the morning. It made a last, short supersonic flight, with around 100 British Airways staff onboard. The aircraft headed out over the Bay of Biscay before descending towards Bristol. Here, she performed a lap of honor over the city and neighboring districts, including over the airfield and Clifton Suspension Bridge, much to the delight of the crowds below.
The final flight of the fleet. #OnThisDay 17 years ago, the crowds came out to wave off an icon, as Concorde made her final flight over the Clifton Suspension Bridge and home to Filton. #InnovationIsGREAT ???????? ✈️ ???????? pic.twitter.com/IRCixUOAGr
— GREAT Britain (@GREATBritain) November 26, 2020
She touched down at Filton just after 13:00, where Prince Andrew was waiting to say his goodbyes. G-BOAF had completed 18,257 flight hours in her 23-year lifespan. After all that time, she’d returned to the place where it all started, ending the dream of supersonic travel.
26 November 2003. Concorde G-BOAF makes a low pass over the Clifton Suspension Bridge on its way to Filton. pic.twitter.com/mP5Tr4alau
— Ron Eisele (@ron_eisele) November 25, 2020
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A brief history of Alpha Foxtrot
G-BOAF, also known as Alpha Foxtrot, was the final Concorde ever to be built. Carrying line number 216, this aircraft and its sister 214, were built with no customer order for them. The manufacturers hoped that either Singapore Airlines or British Caledonian would buy both aircraft, but they never did.
Instead, a deal was done with British Airways to take 216 and 214. Initially, Alpha Foxtrot took the registration G-N94AF, due to an unusual agreement British Airways had with Braniff Airways to operate the type between Washington and Dallas. However, the agreement with Braniff ended before 216 was delivered, so it never flew with this registration.
In June 1980, 216 was registered G-BOAF and was delivered from the manufacturing site at Filton to British Airways at Heathrow. During her time with the airline, she was blessed to complete a number of notable achievements, including:
- Setting a record: G-BOAF made the fastest transatlantic crossing in January 1983, fling from New York to London in two hours, 56 minutes and 35 seconds. She held the record for five years until another Concorde did it faster.
- Flying around the world: Alpha Foxtrot completed a circumnavigation of the world in 1989. The trip covered more than 38,000 miles.
- First for a cabin upgrade: In 1993, G-BOAF was the first Concorde in the British Airways fleet to get a major cabin upgrade. The refresh, which cost BA £1 million, included new luxurious leather seats.
- First in new livery: This was the first Concorde to sport British Airways’ Chatham Dockyard’ livery, being rolled out with the new look in June 1997.
- First to fly after the grounding: Following the Air France Concorde crash, the entire fleet was grounded, including BA’s. Modifications took 11 months, and Alpha Foxtrot was the first British Concorde to fly again. She also completed the first flight to the USA following the grounding, carrying British Prime Minister Tony Blair to meet US President George W Bush.
17 years ago, G-BOAF got the final honor of her life with British Airways. She was the last Concorde ever to fly. G-BOAF is now housed at Aerospace Bristol in a purpose-built facility. You can see her arrival in the video below:
Have you been to visit Alpha Foxtrot in Bristol? Or perhaps you were lucky enough to get a flight on this beautiful bird. Share your memories in the comments.