Photo by Dennis
Eagle Hanger presentation by BA Capt.
John D. Eames (Ret) on flying Concorde into
July 30, 2009 - Oshkosh, Wisconsin
- Today the show-stopper in the sky came from Europe and wowed the Oshkosh
crowds with its bulk.
But 24 years ago it was the Queen of Speed
that drew tens of thousands of visitors to jam the AirVenture flightline,
anxious to get the first glimpse of the British Airways supersonic
Concorde jet. It turns out the people on the ground weren’t the only
ones excited. The Concorde crew was, too.
That crew returned to Oshkosh this week to
celebrate and recall that first Concorde visit, as well as its subsequent
visits in 1988, 1990, 1994, and 1998. The Concorde is also celebrating the
40th anniversary of its first flight back in 1969. Anne McKenary flew as a
flight attendant on the Concorde to AirVenture, and although two decades
have passed, she remembered the visit to Oshkosh.
“My favorite part was the atmosphere when we
landed,” she said.
“It was seeing all the people and all the
aircraft. “It was such a warm welcome and so much enthusiasm from
youngsters to the very old.”
But the Concorde demonstration flights at
Oshkosh were exciting for McKenary since a touch-and-go wasn’t something
they’d normally do on a flight with paying passengers.
“As a flight attendant, I had never
experienced touch-and-goes,” she said. “It was a new thrill.”
Ian Smith, the copilot two decades ago, said
arriving in Oshkosh was overwhelming.
“I didn’t know what to expect, but I didn’t
expect to see so many people and so many immaculate airplanes,” he
He said he was overwhelmed by the reception
from all the visitors. “I enjoyed being surrounded by so many aviation
“It was very humbling to meet so many
skilled people and to see the interest in the plane that they showed.”
Pilot John Eames said they weren’t allowed
to fly at supersonic speeds above the United States because of the
resulting sonic boom.
But even at subsonic speed the delta-winged
bird traveled about 100 mph faster than other planes, he pointed out.
Flying at 60,000 feet was also a great view, with clouds below and a dark,
blue sky above.
The Concorde crew has presentations scheduled
through August 2. To view the complete schedule, go to www.airventure.org/schedule/.