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.
Click on any of the pictures to enlarge.
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.
What you first notice inside is that the plane is exceptionally low – the headroom is probably around 6’4′.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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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