Trip Report with Photos by The Travel Scholar (Page 3 of 8)

The View

Whilst traditional subsonic jetliners usually reach a cruising altitude of thirty to thirty-five thousand feet, Concorde nearly doubles that, cruising at an altitude between fifty-five and sixty thousand feet. British Airways claim that "only astronauts fly higher," and that the altitude puts you far above the weather, allowing for an extremely smooth, turbulence-free flight.

I can confirm that the flight was extremely smooth at our cruising altitude, and any signs of weather were thousands of feet down. At this high altitude, the sky was an intense indigo blue, and the view was truly remarkable. Looking out the window, one could make out the gradual curve of the earth below, and it was even more evident when viewed from inside the cabin over the span of a few windows.

Here are some photos of this unique view from "the edge of space:"

Mach 2.00, 53000 Feet

Temp -55 C, 1330 MPH

Concorde's exterior windows were much smaller than those of other jet aircraft. Looking out across multiple windows like this was the best way to see the curve of the earth below.

The view from the edge of space. In this photo and the others to follow, the curve of the earth is still visible, but much seems much less distinct without a straight point of reference for your eyes.

The deep indigo blue of the high stratosphere.

The horizon almost seemed to emit a blue glow.

Another view, zoomed past the window edges.

One more view, with more deep blue sky.

About 20 minutes of flying time passed, and our altitude crept up to 55,000 feet. I decided to go for a stretch and took a walk towards the aft end of the cabin. When I reached row 25, I had another look out the window, this time to see Concorde's unique delta wing and the view below. Here are some final photos of the view from Concorde, starting with some over-the-wing shots from seats 25A and 25D, and concluding with a few more taken from my seat in 11D:

Mach 2.0, 55000 Feet

Temp -52 C, 1340 MPH

View of Right delta wing from seat 25D with camera angled towards the aft of the aircraft.

View of Left delta wing from seat 25A with camera angled towards the aft of the aircraft.

View of the delta wing from seat 25D with camera angled straight across and slightly downward.

From my seat in 11D, the wing was barely visible, even with the camera angled downward.

Some puffy clouds thousands of feet below.

One final look down from 55000 feet up in the air.

By now, I noticed that the windows were very warm to the touch. Despite the frigid temperature of the outside air, Concorde's airframe actually gets quite hot due to the friction of the air passing over the plane at supersonic speeds. I'm told that not only does this cause the windows to feel surprisingly warm from the inside, but it also causes Concorde to stretch in length more than six inches in flight!!

During the final portion of our journey, cabin crew offered items for sale from the duty free catalogue. There were several Concorde items featured in the catalogue that were very popular amongst passengers. I wanted to order a Concorde keyring, but the supply was exhausted before they came to my seat. However, they also offered a mail order service for a 5 GBP handling fee, which I happily accepted, and shipping was available to addresses world-wide.

A few minutes later, I felt a very noticeable deceleration, which was followed by an announcement from the captain that we were approaching our destination and would be slowing to subsonic speed once again. It seemed like the flight had just begun, and it was already almost time to land. The bulkhead information display indicated that we had left mach 2.0, and with that, we started our descent for landing at London Heathrow.


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