OBBI 251830Z VRB003KT COVAK 32/24 Q1008 NOSIG
Here is a piece of history to be proud of...
January 21 1976, 11:40z, Captain Norman Todd of British Airways directed his Four Rolls-Royce/SNECMA Olympus 593 engines down London Heathrow’s RWY 28L. An Explosion of Reheat power, each releasing 38,000 lbs of thrusts, pointed the “Speedbird” to the sky, and rocketed towards Bahrain International Airport.
“Heathrow Tower Speedbird Concorde is AIRBOURNE!”
One of two simultaneous flight that day. The second being from France, destined to Rio de Janeiro via Dakar. With the distinguished call sign “Concorde Speedbird”, BA300 crossed the distance to Bahrain in 3h 17 min landing safely on RWY 12.
Concerns over Sonic Boom effects, and sound regulations restricted the flight to subsonic speeds across Europe. Once over Venice, “Speedbird” released it's Mach 2 potential, curving the Mediterranean around Greece to Beirut. Finally, Capt Todd aligned his bird towards OBBI, starting his decent 280nm out, somewhere over the deserts of Hafar AlBatin.
“Flight International” then-editor Mike Ramsden, gives us an account of what it was like on board BA300. Stamped with G-BOAA on the tail, the unique bird was paraded through Heathrow. With no less than three Boeing 747s, three 707s and three Hawker Siddeley Tridents waiting at their 28L holding point. In the Sky and on the Ground, all held short for Concorde.
With a British charm, passengers enjoyed an opulent menu of Caviar, Lobster Canapés, succulent Steaks, Cuban Cigars and Dom Pérignon to wash it down. Passengers of the first flight were gifted commemorative items including Gold and Silver Coins, Pins, Plaques, Signed Itineraries and other great memorabilia.
Initially, G-BOAA maintained an average speed of M0.93 at FL250. With the Alps in view, came the moment passengers had been waiting for; at 12:59z the captain announced the start of transonic acceleration.
“The surge is noticeable, but I cannot detect from where I am riding the expected nudge of the reheat”; “Noise level, or rather pitch, increases slightly and the low livelier airframe tells us that Concorde is in her supersonic element.” Mike Ramsden – Flight International 1976
Approaching Bahrain with a far heard rumble, hundreds gathered and lined the Airport fence to witness an epic marvel. The age of Super Sonic Transport was here! Received as a world wonder, Bahrain welcomed the Speedbird with pride and held numerous events in its honor.
Bahrain served as a vital Air Bridge between East and West. Logistically and historically, one of the first airports in the region with modern guidance technology and landing aids, OBBI was a key factor in Concorde’s Eastern Routes.
Not to forget, that back then Bahrain Center OBBB’s coverage spanned from Westerns India to Eastern Egypt, as Bahrain used to manage all the Os on the ICAO map.
Sadly, after About 50,000 flight transporting 2.5 Million passengers at M 2.00, The Concorde was grounded, clipped and tethered. Concerns over safety, cost of operation, and the tragic crash of Air France Flight 4590 brought the experience to a halt.
The last flight took place on the 24th of October, 2003, crossing the Atlantic from JFK to Heathrow in its usual time of 3h 15m. Sadly, these birds of history can only be seen, and never to be experienced again. How did we regress? Or was it that we leaped too far forward for our reality to match our enthusiasm? Surely the roar of the Concorde will be missed.
Our little Island, with pride, holds a significant part of this bird’s history. Accommodating for the first commercial flight, and serving as a bridge between Europe and the Far East. Today Speedbird G-BOAA stands in silence at the National Museum of Flight. Preserved for generations to wonder and admire in Hangar 4, at the East Fortune Airfield in Edinburgh, Scotland.
Rather than a heavy heart, I leave you with the Timeless and Great Shirley Bassey. With clips shot in Bahrain. She hosted a 1975 TV Special, commemorating the first Passenger Carrying Super Sonic Flight. Enjoy the Show. Speedbird Out..
Concorde & Bahrain Relationship Time Line: