British Concorde Arrives At Seattle Museum of Flight
By Patrick Mondout
November 5, 2003
On October 24, 2003, the final passenger flight of a Concorde
took place between New York and London. But this was not the final flight
of this Concorde (G-BOAG).
British Airways has permanently loaned this historic aircraft to the Museum
of Flight in Seattle. The beloved Concorde took off from JFK this
afternoon as Flight BA9094C with a full load of fortunate BA employees and
landed at it's new home at Boeing Field (BFI - where the museum is
located) in front of a cheering crowd estimated at 4,500.
Though the temperature was in the mid 40s, it was a beautiful day - not
a cloud in the sky. I drove up from Portland and was glad to arrived early
as I was able to get to the front of the security fence. I was not the
only one who arrived early.
The Concorde was scheduled to arrive around 3:00 p.m., but it was about
a half-hour early. In fact, it set a speed record for the New York to
Permission to fly supersonic over Canada was granted by the Canadian
government and that allowed Concorde to set the record by making the
flight from New York City to Seattle in 3 hours, 55 minutes and 12
We were told by museum officials there would be an announcement made as
the Concorde was arriving, but owing perhaps to its unexpected early
arrival, none was made.
Folks throughout the crowd began pointing and saying, "There it
is!" It did an overhead pass of the field at about 2000 feet from the
north. A very much appreciated treat!
As it turned south of Seattle to line up for the landing on runway 31L,
it passed in front of the Mt. Rainier. What a sight! (I was beginning to
regret not bringing my 300mm zoom-lens, though I did capture it with my
On final approach, there were "oohs" and "aahs"
followed by cheers from the crowd - most of which (at least around me) had
never seen the aircraft in person before - as it came in for a picture
I didn't see a band, but typically British music was playing in the
background and many in the crowd were holding British flags.
While we watched the Concorde taxi in front of us, we could see that
Interstate-5, the main artery in and out of Seattle and just above the
field to the east, was practically a parking lot as many folks stopped
their cars to take a look at the unique aircraft. We could see police cars
attempting to keep the traffic flowing, but they were probably not
expecting the early landing and were only marginally successful.
Actually, its early landing caused other problems. A gentleman standing
next to me with a cell phone had a difficult time convincing friends who
were stuck in traffic trying to get to Boeing Field to believe that it had
already landed; many missed the landing believing it would be some time
after 3:00. There was also a planned reception for the crew, but not all
the honored guests had arrived (some via planes which were to arrive
before Concorde but had to wait to land due to its early arrival). The
Concorde parked on the taxiway for about a half hour before it finally
made its way to the reception.
It was all smiles as we
welcomed the British Airways crew and our new bird
to Boeing Field. While taxiing, pilots Les Broadie
(seen waving) and Mike Bannister waved British and
American flags from the cockpit windows.
Image by Patrick Mondout
I have hung out at airports before taking photographs of commercial
aircraft and lived for eight years about a mile from Moffett Field/NASA
Ames in Mountain View, California, but I have never seen as graceful and
as beautiful an aircraft as Concorde. Whatever the noise concerns and
economic realities, this was certainly the commercial aircraft of
the 20th century if only judged by it looks, class, and speed.
The Museum of
Flight currently estimates the Concorde will open for tours by museum
members only on November 22 and that it should be open to the public by
November 28. Along with the original Boeing 707-based Air Force One and
one of the best collection of aircraft anywhere in the world, it is well
worth your time if you are in the Seattle area.