30 Years & An Amazing Day Out!
Sunday was our 30th Wedding Anniversary, WOW 30 years, more than half of a life time of being married. It’s closer to 40 if I say how long we have been together.
To mark the occasion Al took me on a day out of a lifetime.
On Saturday afternoon he asked me would I like to go out on the Sunday – sure would love to – thinking he meant maybe for a meal or to one of the children, but no, he handed me a print out and we was going on Concorde. The actual plane. Cue tear works and a lot of OH WOW! OH WOW! That’s all I could say for a good five minutes.
A bit of a back story. I was fascinated by this airplane growing up in the 70’s it was a major new item and really caught my attention. I thought she was so beautiful to look at. My Nanna E only ever took one flight and that was to New York on Concorde. She was petrified getting on, but was going over to see her sister in Canada, at the other end she didn’t want to get off she loved it that much.
I always presumed one day that I would be able to fly on her if I saved hard. But sadly after the crash in July 2000 her days were numbered and she was destined never really to fly again. So how did we get on her I hear you ask. Al had booked a tour of the Concorde that is in storage at Manchester Airport. I couldn’t believe this was happening to me after all these years I was going to go on Concorde, actually touch and go inside the real deal.
Most of the times I have been to Manchester Airport is to pick the children or friends from their holidays, but this time we was going for us.
Back to it
We arrived at the Runway Visitors Park and hour before we was due to get there but I couldn’t sit at home waiting. What we didn’t know was that the Visitors park it right at the side of the runways of Manchester Airport. We booked in at the reception to let them know we had arrived and then went back outside and sat on one of the many picnic style benches that where dotted around watching planes take off and land. It was fantastic. I could also see a Concorde through the glass window.
I purposely didn’t go onto the website to learn more about the tour as I wanted it to be a complete surprise. So seeing her in real life was a real oh WOW, pinch me moment for me.
At our allotted time we went in to towards the hanger doors and awaited the other eight people booked on our tour. Steve, who was to be one of our tour guides, ran through a bit of health and safety, also asking us please to refrain from pulling the window blinds down, not to recline the seats or undo the fold down table. He rightly said if everyone who went on board Concorde did this they wouldn’t last long and parts are hard to come by.
Through the hanger doors went and there she was in her British Airways livery, looking absolutely amazing. She really did take my breath away.
As usual I let everyone else go before me up the steps as I hate holding anyone up being really slow at them. Steve was great he told me not to worry as he wouldn’t leave without me. Finally the steps where done and I was about to step in side. But no wait for it instead of turning right Steve directed us left and INTO THE COCKPIT!!!! Actually into where the pilot and first officer, etc sat. I got to sit in the pilot seat and touch the yolk and the flap controllers of Concorde. Sat in the first officer seat was our second tour guide, John.
He told us all about the cockpit. How it used to expand by as much as 10 inches because of the heat that was generated as she flew across the earth. Showed us the Mach instrument that let the pilots know when they where at top speed. The nose lowering lever. All the instruments that where needed to keep her in the skies where fascinating compared to the latest digital cockpit screens all of it was manual.
Looking through the windscreen we could see her proud nose looking over the arriving and leaving flights outside. I got to thinking that she was sad not being able to join them taking off into the glorious sunshine.
We was in the cockpit for a good 10 minutes. I had a whole load of questions that John could mostly answer. Sadly I had to leave so other members of the tour could go have a look too. I really could have stayed there looking around for an hour or so there was so many knobs & whisltes.
Life on Board
We rejoined them in the cabin area. Concorde is set out in a two by two style with an aisle up the middle, with a maximum of one hundred passengers. No TV’s in the back of the seats, but there was four screens that told you the Mach, the altitude, the outdoor temperature and MPH.
Steve was telling us all about her and some of her more famous passengers included HRH The Queen and Prince Phillip, who actually sat across the aisle from each other as they both wanted a window seat. How you was only allowed to bring one suitcase on board – as Concorde doesn’t have a lot of loading bay space. Most of the space is took up by fuel tanks.
Food on board wasn’t the option of chicken or beef like today, no you got a 5 course meal with a six page wine list. And you had real knife and forks. Though they had to replace most of them after the flights as people took them as memento’s of their time on board.
Did you know flights cost as little as £431 to fly from Heathrow to New York – unbelievable right..
It didn’t matter we didn’t actually leave the ground I had been able to tick off a big item on my bucket list that I never thought I ever would. This is a memory that will stay with me for ever. A real Supersonic day out.
You can find details of the tours etc on the Runways Visitors Park Website At only £15 per person for the tour with validated free parking well worth the day. Don;t forget to have lots of room on your camera or phone.
Thank you Al for this, here’s to the next 30 years!
More About the Visitors Park
The Runway Visitors Park runs right along side of the runways at Manchester Airport. You can see planes arriving and leaving from there. I think it’s a place we will take Jake and Grace for a visit when they come over during the holidays as it’s great being able to see the aircraft so close by.
Wanted to add this photo of the gate to the steps of the aircraft. Thought it was so cute.
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