My day out at the new Aerospace Bristol museum – Part 2 (Concorde)

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This is part 2 of my review of the new Aerospace Bristol museum.  Part 1, which focuses on the main building and its exhibition on the history of aircraft manufacturing in Bristol, is here.

30 seconds walk from the main building – which has a decent cafe, before anyone asks – is the new purpose built Concorde hanger.

Every UK Concorde was assembled in Filton and first flown off its runway.  The last ever Concorde flight was the return of G-BOAF to Filton in 2003.  You may have seen versions of this picture of crowds on the Clifton Suspension Bridge watching it fly over:

So what do you get here?

Well, a Concorde in a big shed, basically.  A flight of stairs takes you up to a walkway from where you can walk through the plane from front to back.

Concorde at Aerospace Bristol

Click on any of the pictures to enlarge.

Concorde at Aerospace Bristol

This was not my first Concorde tour. I went inside an Air France one at the Airbus factory museum in Toulouse a couple of years ago.  I never flew in one.  I think my Dad did a little bit of work on the project at British Steel at some point.

Concorde at Aerospace Bristol

What you first notice inside is that the plane is exceptionally low – the headroom is probably around 6’4′.

Concorde at Aerospace Bristol

The 2 x 2 seating is also antiquated, and the leg room is not great.  It is more comfortable than a 4-hour British Airways Club Europe flight today, but not by a lot.

Concorde at Aerospace Bristol

What I did like was this – two of the original 1960’s seats.  Let’s bring this sort of thing back!  There is a photo of this cabin in flight, with a drinks trolley well stacked with Martini.

Concorde at Aerospace Bristol

There is a two-room exhibition on the upper level featuring a lot of Concorde memorabilia as well as the flight simulator (not working but lit) used in pilot training.

Concorde at Aerospace Bristol

The museum has had access to the personal collection of chief UK test pilot Brian Trubshaw which turns this area into something better than a collection of souvenirs.

Concorde at Aerospace Bristol

The other thing that the museum has done well is the ‘light and sound’ projections which occasionally come to life.  They are hard to explain but work well, projecting key engineering drawings and the like onto the fuselage.  My interior pictures are a little dark because they took place whilst this was going on!

Concorde at Aerospace Bristol

There are no shortage of retired Concorde aircraft if you want to visit one.  20 were built, of which one crashed and one was broken up for spares.  Seven are in the UK, six in France, one in Germany and three in the US.  The best trip to visit one would be to Barbados, where there is one at the airport.  That said, there is something to be said for seeing one at the place where it assembled and from where it took its first (and in this case final) flight.

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Comments

  1. Steveo_UK says:

    Never flew, so wish I had. Very familiar with the Brooklands Concorde and it is okay. Best I have visited so far is at the Intrepid in New York. You have to pay extra for the Concorde tour, but it is a small group (they say to limit wear and tear on aircraft – probably just to get you to pay an additional fee) led by excellent and knowledgeable staff. I think it costs them a fortune to keep in the condition insisted on by BA so maybe it won’t be there forever. Definitely the highlight of my NY trip.

  2. AmandaB says:

    Fantastic memories of Concorde. Flew twice on their Flights of Fantasy trips. An hour out over the Bay of Biscay and back. The first time I was invited to the flight deck for takeoff and landing at LHR. Best bit – being allowed to operate her nose. Second time was Christmas Day, best Christmas ever!
    I have all the memorabilia from both trips.

  3. They were a nightmare for Air Traffic Control. Low on fuel before they had even departed and everything else had to be moved out of its way. A stop off on its cruise climb would mean failing to make destination.

  4. Stevie B says:

    I flew Concorde from JFK to Heathrow in 1996. It was a wonderful experience, utterly different from ordinary subsonic aircraft. Take off was like being shot out of a catapult. Hearing the words ‘We are starting our descent towards London’ when you’ve only been in the air for around 2.5 hours really brought the incredible speed home.

  5. Roy Hollis says:

    Fantastic memories when I was at Heathrow 1976 with the Fairford engineers, I was in the stores issueing the spares while it was in the hanger, I did not get the chance to fly on it but can say I was one of the first to go on the flight deck and sit in the leather seats, I still believe if the Americans had bought Concorde would still be flying today, caa/Faa should give certificate to fly, let Richard Branson try.

  6. HAM76 says:

    Concorde…. my biggest mistake ever in aviation. Instead of flying Concorde one way and economy back, I wasted my first Avios redemption ever, the result of several years of flying WT and WTP, on a CE redemption for two going HAM-BCN-HAM… on Air Nostrum… on a dash 400… They lost our bags both ways, too.

  7. Anna says:

    I still can’t really understand why there are no more Concordes – surely in this travel-obsessed era people would be queuing up to fly on one?

  8. John says:

    Flew Concorde a few times when it was being offered to staff ( and families) at £500 a sector!. My eldest son and I would fly from LHR to JFK at around the same time as my wife and younger children took off from LGW on a direct 777 to MCO (Orlando). At JFK we would trade the sublime for the more prosaic offerings of a JetBlue A320 to MCO. We arrived in Florida at the same time, but what a way to get (half way) there.

  9. Damien says:

    Ref the Grantley-Adams one at BGI, best to check in advance as they do use the space for conferences and the like.

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