Boeing 747 – the work horse of flying in the 1980’s
How something simple can grow & grow!
In 1986 I was asked to attend an operational meeting in London, to which I agreed.
I warned Maureen that I would be away for a few days because I was going to London.
Later it was decided that I should fly over to New York from London and see their office and how it differed from ours, and of course to meet the staff. Connections in the international transport field made the world go round.
Later that day I warned Maureen again that I would be a way a little longer than I first thought
The following day the GM said to me ‘After New York why not ‘nip over’ to San Francisco and see how they operate, and on the way back call in at Los Angeles . . . . . . then you can come home.’
That evening I informed Maureen . . .
I felt tired out just thinking of all the flying and the meetings. Some might think international business travel is romantic, but my itinerary was work, not a holiday, and the only foreign sites that I would see would be airports and airport hotels, because our business was air transport, so the operation of airports was my focus.
It was decided that I should fly British Airways rather than Qantas because BA was keen to increase our spending power with them through their cargo system.
British Airways knew that they could not compete for our OBC traffic (on board courier) because Qantas had the best timetable that fitted our requirements.
Some years earlier, being an ex-employee of British Airways, I had ‘done a deal’ with BA Australia for a particular product of ours that generated over 100,000 kilos of cargo a year. British Airways’ price per kilo encouraged us to ship our non-urgent traffic through them – but they wanted us to increase our traffic.
So why not spend money with BA passenger department which would keep Qantas on their toes if we appeared to be getting ‘close’ to British Airways.
Competition is great leveller.
I was booked economy by the company, but thankfully BA took pity on me, and I was upgraded to Business class from Sydney to London.
At that time video on demand from your seat was not available so a passenger had to make sure he/she had a couple of good books to help pass the time.
I was allocated a seat in the ‘bubble’.
The Bubble was an area upstairs at the front of the B 747 – some airlines created a bar area in the bubble, but British Airways at that time used it as a business class area. It was a quiet area and seating was limited.
This picture gives you an idea of the area. As you see there was a small screen at the front. The passengers had earphones and could listen to music or talks about various subjects.
After the lunchtime meal had been cleared away a film would be shown and you could listen to the film via the headphones.
If you had seen the film hard luck because the only thing you could change was the sound, you could not change the film. You could still listen to music if you wished.
In other areas of the aircraft a pulldown screen in each passenger area was used for passengers to view a film. The pulldown screen was much larger than the screen in the Bubble.
The London visit went well – but what I did not mention to the London office was that I would not be flying economy across the Atlantic because I had a ticket for the Concorde . . . the Company used Concorde for the OBC courier service, so I did not want any problem with me not being a courier.
The Australian GM had taken pity on me . . . and it was Concorde’s tenth anniversary of flying the Atlantic.
I was dropped off at the passenger terminal and made my way to the dedicated check-in area for Concorde.
You never had to queue for Concorde
The departure lounge was not like any other departure lounge this was Concorde! Everything was just ‘so’, but unfortunately, I could not find any pictures of the Concorde lounge of 1986.
On checking in my suitcase was checked and I had to show my hand baggage because the overhead lockers had limited space.
I was given a baggage tag for my hand luggage; I had passed the test.
I was given a small timetable to show that I would arrive in New York before I left London . . .note the check-in time. Today one has to check-in so early that Concorde would arrive in New York before you had passed through security.
Seating plan of the aircraft
As you see there is not a lot of room, but everyone could see through a window, and I was fortunate not to have anyone in the seat next to me.
If one has a ‘problem’ with this aircraft, it is the height for tall passengers. I was (at the time, I have since shrunk) 6 ft 2 inches tall (1.829 mtr) and I had to bend my neck as I walked down the aisle.
I found the above picture on the internet and this person commented about the height when boarding Concorde. He is six feet tall, (1.8 mtr) so add two inches and my shoes . . .
It was obvious that the cabin crew had to meet certain heights before they would be allowed to fly Concorde. None of the cabin crew that I saw had a neck bending problem.
Did you know that the time it took for a cabin crew member to pour a glass of Champagne the aircraft had travelled ten miles (16 km).
Wherever you sat you could see the speed indicator and the height at which we flew. The height above is 16.5 km and the speed shown is twice the speed of sound. When we went through the sound barrier obviously, we did not hear it because we had left the bang behind us, but I felt a slight jerk in the back.
We cruised at 60,000 feet.
Cruising at 60,000 feet generates heat on the airframe, which causes the aircraft to expand by between 6 to 10 inches (15 to 25 cm).
Looking out the window I could see the horizon, which was edged with a rich indigo blue.
The experience is such that you think you can see the curvature of the Earth , but you cannot see the curve – we were not high enough at 60,ooo feet (18,288 mtrs).
The aircraft window is small, so you have to be a lot higher to see the curvature of the Earth. Some people said that they could see the curve of the Earth when flying Concorde, but that was after a few Champagnes . . . .
The menu for that day’s flight.
Any drinks ?
If you remember Trivia Pursuit here are a couple of facts about Concorde
The maximum temperature on Concorde’s nose when cruising at the speed of sound (Mach) is 127 degrees C and at Mach2.2 Concorde’s maximum speed, it reaches 153 degrees c (307 F).
At Mach 2 we were doing 23 miles a minute (37 km).
On the 7th February 1996 the flight from New York to Heathrow took only 2 hours, 52 minutes and 59 seconds – breaking the previous record by over a minute.
There were 100 passengers and six cabin crew onboard.
It doesn’t matter how old you are one will still keep the record of flying Concorde .
British Airways Concorde fleet 1986.
Each passenger was given a small satchel containing various items, which included their latest magazine as a memento of the ten years of service, which is why I was able to show many of the items above.