In Pictures: Concorde flying high for 50 years

Aviation fans around the world are marking the 50th anniversary of Concorde’s maiden flight.

The first Concorde prototype took off from Toulouse in the south of France on March 2 1969, with test pilot Andre Turcat in the air for 27 minutes.

The first British-built version of the supersonic jet took off from Filton in Bristol on April 9 of the same year.

Concorde’s 50th anniversary
A pre-production Concorde is rolled out of a hangar in 1971 at Filton, where 10 of the aircraft were made (PA)
Concorde’s 50th anniversary
The Queen in 1977 reading newspapers during her flight home on Concorde from Bridgetown in Barbados, after her Silver Jubilee tour of Canada and the West Indies (PA)
Concorde’s 50th anniversary
A British Airways Concorde shadowed by two Second World War Spitfires as it arrives over the Biggin Hill Air Show in 1986 (PA)

Concorde was a joint Anglo-French project between BAC, a forerunner of BAE Systems, and Aerospatiale, now a part of Airbus.

The plane had a distinctive nose cone that could be tilted during take-off and landing to give pilots more visibility.

Concorde museum
The cockpit of Concorde 216, the last of its type to be built and which made the fleet’s final flight to a museum at the British Aerospace site in Filton, Bristol (Ben Birchall/PA)
Concorde’s 50th anniversary
Barbara Harmer, pictured in 1993, was the first woman civil supersonic pilot of a British Airways Concorde (Adam Butler/PA)
Concorde’s 50th anniversary
The Duchess of York on the Concorde flight deck at Heathrow in 1987 (PA)

But most impressive of all was its speed, with a cruising velocity of twice the speed of sound, or 1,350mph, allowing it to cover a mile in just 2.75 seconds.

Concorde was retired from service in October 2003, with British Airways and Air France blaming a downturn in passenger numbers and rising maintenance costs.

Concorde’s 50th anniversary
The Red Arrows flank Concorde above The Mall as part of the celebration to mark the Queen’s Golden Jubilee in 2002 (PA)
Concorde’s 50th anniversary
Gill and John Whiteside, from Northamptonshire, wearing protective glasses, enjoy a glass of champagne from stewardess Samantha Kingdon during a special eclipse viewing trip in 1999 (John Stillwell/PA)
Concorde’s 50th anniversary
Captain Mike Bannister, right, and senior first officer Jonathan Napier waving from the cockpit in 2003 on the day Concorde retired from commercial service (Sean Dempsey/PA)
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