Today, as you’re probably well aware, will be Concorde’s last ever flight. This has affected me more than I expected it to, and it’s taken me a while to figure out why.

On the pragmatic level, I don’t like to see people taking retrograde steps because of the need to put finance above achievement. Concorde is an astounding piece of engineering, and to retire it in favour of more lumbering great beasts of the sky like the 747 seems such a bizarre backwards step as to be almost criminal.

But it’s more than that. This is going to sound a bit weird, but stick with me, please 🙂 It goes back to when I was a child, and it involves not what Concorde is so much as, for me, what it stood for. As a child, you dream dreams. You have stupid, hopeless, unattainable dreams which the world hasn’t yet had a chance to rip out of your as-yet uncynical heart and stamp on because “things just don’t work like that”. And in the deepest part of our cynical, dry adult hearts, there’s still a little bit of us that would like to believe those dreams could still come true.

Concorde was one of those dreams. For kids like me, who had posters of aeroplanes on their wall and went to airshows and built airfix kits of fighter jets, Concorde represented the absolute pinnacle of aviation technology – but more than that, you could actually buy a ticket to go on Concorde. If you did really well at school and got a good job and earned lots of money, you could actually do it – you could fly on Concorde. I remember going to an airshow once, and they had a mockup of Concorde’s cabin on display – you could go inside it, and sit in an actual seat like they had in the actual Concorde. I sat in that seat, and swore to myself that one day I’d make that money, and buy that ticket, and that I could make that dream come true – damnit, I might not be able to have a Lambourghini Countach, or fly a spaceship, but at least I could fly on Concorde.

A decade and a half later, I’d all but forgotten that promise to myself. Lost amongst the other unfulfilled childhood dreams of being a rock star, being a racing driver, fighting off an alien invasion, and getting a job as a rollercoaster tester – until now, that is. And now it’s too late – I’m never going to do it.

Okay, it’s not that big a deal – I’m never going to be a racing driver, either, and I’m not all cut up about that (well, apart from every time I watch an F1 race with my dad and mutter dark things under my breath about not taking me Go-karting as a kid). But it’s another thing which makes me wish for those days when I was younger and less cynical, and wasn’t afraid to dream crazy dreams and never considered any that there might be any limitations on what I could ever do.

I’m still going to be a rock star, though.

3 Responses to “Concorde”

  1. nayf says:

    *wipes a manly tear from his eye*

  2. Chris says:

    Re-reading, that came out a bit more thoughtful and emotive than I’d planned 🙂 But I stand by it. They should keep Concorde in the air.

  3. TNB says:

    Indeed. I’ve had similar feelings.

    I was quite annoyed when I heard they were retiring it, and offering trips on it one-way (with an economy ticket for the return journey) for cheap (around #800).

    Had there been a couple more months, I *could* have saved that much. Ah well. Back on the ol’ 747 again next time then. Shame.