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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  1. Nick says:

    A wonderful aircraft! On numerous occasions, when I was on the first BA 747 flight arriving at LHR from BOS, we’d park next to it at the gate. It always sent a tingle up my spine as the American pax wowed over it.

  2. Paul says:

    I did fly Concorde and can assure you that the experience was nothing like a club Europe flight today.
    It was a slick, polished, impeccable and thoroughly exciting experience every time. Leg room was not an issue and I personally found the leather seats comfortable.

  3. Nick F says:

    I flew back from NYC on one and, as a BA crewmember, was lucky enough to sit behind the captain in that tiny, cramped flightdeck for take-off out of JFK. An unforgettable experience. The thrust from those four engines was pretty incredible and I remember the flight being absolutely turbulence-free, due the to altitude at which it flew. Flight time was 3hrs 10mins. Wouldn’t we all love that today!

  4. James says:

    I used to see it go overhead everyday where I lived as a kid and was determined to fly it one day.
    Fortunately I worked for BA for a few years whilst Concorde was still flying and managed to get myself & my Brother a trip to NYC on ‘The Bird’ for £250 (with biz class return).
    So glad I did.
    You could book this after 2yrs of employment and I was genuinely could ting down the mo the, weeks & days until I could get on the phone & book.
    I was always amazed that so few people did it.

  5. Fred Finn says:

    Your comments are very biased, I am 6ft 2in in height and found that the seats were extremely comfortable as they are contoured your feet easily go under the seat in front of you. You should compare these seats are rather like a Ferrari as against a Rolls Royce. Since flying on Concorde was rather like going out to a business lunch with fantastic service and world class drinks and wines. By the time lunch was over you were in New York. I did this over 700 times and I can tell you it’s very comfortable. The one at Duxford is great as you get the opportunity to visit the rest of a fantastic collection and like Brooklands they still drop the nose on their Concorde’s. Aeroscopial in Tolouse houses a fabulous museum with two Concorde’s including the last one to be decommissioned. I flew many of my flights on the jump seat behind the captain when they wanted to carry 101 passengers instead of the usual 100 Concorde the best experience ever

    • Will says:

      Hi five Fred Finn, was too young to ever fly Concorde. Absolutely love your story, a real compliment to the whole Concorde history.

    • Jamesay says:

      Epic! How wonderful to hear your story and your enthusiasm! You Sir were an astronaut 700 times ! Thanks for sharing!

    • Evan says:

      “Biased”? By what?

  6. Mikeact says:

    Most definitely the highlight of my flying days. It was fabulous.

  7. eBungle says:

    So which concode is the best to visit in the UK? I have never been a “plane nut” but there is definitely something about Concorde. Like others I was too young to fly in it as it was withdrawn before I had ever managed to get on a plane. But my first job from school was under the Heathrow flight path and we used to hear it take off everyday as the whole building shook (So we knew when to go for a cigarette – Don’t worry it was legal for under 18’s to smoke then.)

    • Tilly says:

      We visited the one at duxford. I was so excited. Also never gotbthe chance to fly it. Wish I had.

    • john says:

      Brooklands Museum is good if you also like cars!

      • Stuart says:

        And buses, and all sorts of Brooklands built aircraft. Wonderful museum especially with the new “factory”, flight shed and finishing straight open.

        I loved their Concorde which captures the pre-refurb era, and also has a bare rear cabin (no seats) for those interested in the build of the aircraft. (While Filton assembled the aircraft, Brooklands apparently did more of the manufacturing.)

    • trickster says:

      There is one in Manchester in a purpose built hanger at the Aviation Park, as well as a handful of other planes outside, plus great views of the runway for spotting if that’s your thing.

      I did the Concorde tour there a few years ago with my Dad for Father’s Day and it was run by local enthusiasts and very interesting indeed. I was struck by how small it is inside. Alas, I wish I had flown in it, but I discovered BA Miles too late….

  8. Tim M says:

    I was a lecturer at Reading University 2000-2004. One morning I was in a meeting when this deep rumble filled the room – too loud to hear anyone talk. Once it had passed I asked, “What was that?”. “Concorde”, was the reply. Flights had resumed after their suspension following the Air France crash. From that day onwards, there was around half a minute everyday when all communication, including teaching, ceased at Reading University.

    • Gavin says:

      Hi Tim, I studied at Reading University in the same time period, it was about 11am as I recall when Concorde flew over and I too remember a massive rumble disrupting my lectures!

  9. Tim M says:

    P.S. Are not the BA Cityflyer Embraer E-190s the ‘poor man’s Concorde’? They have 98 leather seats in a 2 + 2 configuration and sitting in Club Europe you can still have the champagne, excellent food, metal cutlery and real crockery and glassware.

    • Andi F says:

      …and can’t even get you to Mykonos in under 3.5hours, let alone New York. 🙂

    • Kerry Kenton-clarke says:

      I’ve flown both Concorde and a BA Cityflyer in Club Europe – believe me, there is NO comparison! The one & only Cityflyer flights I ever took had terrible catering, no champagne and the only benefit of Club Europe was getting the front row with lots of legroom – not even a lounge at City Airport, no priority boarding – terrible experience!

      • Kerry Kenton-clarke says:

        Edit … should read “the only two Cityflyer flights” !

  10. Kerry Kenton-clarke says:

    I was fortunate to fly Concorde for free back in the 80s – I had a friend at DHL who, at the time, used Concorde for their courier flights to the USA. I was a courier for a single trip (returned subsonic) which basically required me to carry the paperwork for presentation to Customs! Incredible experience, marred slightly by the fact that a pax at the front of the cabin decided to stand up in front of the mach meter just as it was about to click over to Mach 1 preventing me from ‘seeing’ the event occur as, from recollection, there was no physical manifestation of breaking the sound barrier!

  11. Delbert says:

    Never flew Concorde but one fine summer day in the early 80s I looked up and there was Concorde with, I assumed, two Spitfires flying in formation. What a sight and sound.

  12. 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.

  13. 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.

  14. 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.

  15. 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.

  16. 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.

  17. 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.

  18. 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?

  19. 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.

  20. 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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