My fascination with The Concorde dates back to elementary school. The principle made an announcement that the Concorde would be making a low flyby of our city, Ottawa, and that he was extending our recess to stay outside and watch. That was followed by 600 kids and a few teachers staring at the sky for 30 minutes, only to never see anything. I don’t know if it was too cloudy or the flight path didn’t bring it by our part of the city, but eventually the teachers decided we should get back to class, and sent everyone inside.
That began my lifelong fascination with this unique and rare aircraft. The Concorde is one of only two supersonic passenger planes (the other was the Russian Tupolev Tu-144, which was mired in controversy, technical problems, and crashes that caused it to see less than 3 years of service.)
In comparison, The Concorde was developed by English and French engineers, and it was in service from 1976 until 2003. It was regularly used by British Airways and Air France, and was also uses for a variety of partnerships and charter flights. The plane was a symbol of prestige and wealth, due to the extremely costly tickets to fly on this aircraft.
Sadly, due to a horrible crash in Paris in 2000 combined with the rising costs of operation, the Concorde was retired by both British Airways and Air France in 2003. So while I was never able to achieve my bucket list dream of flying on it, I have been able to visit Concordes several times, as they are now on display in a variety of locations. Here I will share my photos and experiences in the locations I’ve visited.
The Concorde Experience, Barbados
The Concorde Experience at Grantly Adams International Airport in Bridgetown, Barbados, was one of the best places to visit a Concorde. Aircraft G-BOAE went on display in 2007, but sadly the exhibit had been closed for several years. According to this article, the exhibit experienced a lack of funding, and it’s future is currently in question.
You might be wondering why Barbados, of all places, ended up with a Concorde on display. But in fact, it makes perfect sense, as Bridgetown was the only city outside of London, Paris, and New York that had regular flights. British Airways’ Concorde flew regularly from London to Bridgetown.
The experience is a great opportunity to get up an close and personal look at the aircraft. The Concorde is housed inside a large hangar next to the airport terminal. As you entered, you would be directed to seats on the left of the hangar. A video about the history of Concorde and it’s connection to Barbados was projected onto the fuselage. Once the video ended, a guide would walk you around and point out different components of the plane.
After the walk-around, they would then bring you inside to check out the full interior, including the seats, the galley, and the cockpit. This was quite unique, as many Concordes on display don’t include the chance to see the interior.
Once you finished the visit inside the aircraft, you could walk around the hangar some more, viewing the various displays and taking photos. Overall the experience was really well put together, the guides were very knowledgeable, and the chance to see the interior was well worth the visit. Hopefully the government and airport authority find a way to restore and reopen the Concorde to the public.
Runway Visitor Park, Manchester
The Runway Visitor Park is located next to the runway of Manchester International Airport. It includes a museum featuring several aircraft on display, plus an outdoor area for flight enthusiasts to watch planes taking off and landing. Access to the displays and aircraft is free, but there are fees for parking.
This park is home to British Airways Concorde G-BOAC, considered the flagship Concorde. You can view it through the windows for free, but to visit the aircraft up close, you need to book one of several tours offered.
When you arrive and check in, you’ll be brought to a small room to watch a video on the history of Concorde. After the video, you are lead into the large hangar where the Concorde is on display. The tour guide will take you around, pointing out different technical aspects of the aircraft.
After this portion, you are brought inside the aircraft. When I did the tour, the guide allowed us to look around on our own while answering questions. They even pointed out Queen Elizabeth’s favourite spot… turns out she’s a bulkhead seat fan!
Once you’ve explored the inside cabin and viewed the cockpit, there is time to look around. There are various displays and the gift shop. This location is another great place to visit a Concorde up close. I highly recommend it to any fan!
The Smithsonian Air and Space Museum, Washington DC
The Steven F Udvar-Hazy Center is part of the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum. It is located near Dulles Airport in Chantilly, Virginia. This location was built to house larger aircraft and displays that could not fit into the main location in downtown Washington DC.
This museum is one of my favourites to visit, and I highly recommend checking it out if you can. They have a lot of unique and historical aircraft to see. One of the big highlights is the Space Shuttle Discovery. The museum is also home to a Concorde from the Air France fleet. It is located in the main exhibition hall. Unfortunately it’s rather crammed in with all the other aircraft, and you can’t view the interior either. Nonetheless, the museum is a can’t-miss attraction, and seeing a Concorde on display is always a plus.
The Intrepid Sea-Air-Space Museum, New York City
The Intrepid Museum in New York City is a cool chance to visit an aircraft carrier and see the interiors. In addition, there are a number of aircraft on display next to the Intrepid, including a British Airways Concorde. This specific Concorde, G-BOAD, is that one that was painted with Singapore Airlines livery for several years and offered service to Singapore. The Concorde is included with your museum admission.
Charles De Gaulle Airport, Paris
There is an Air France Concorde on display at the Charles De Gaulle Airport in Paris. The aircraft is not accessible to the public, and it’s not possible to visit it. The best way to see it is to drive along Rue de Peupliers, along the barriers of the airport. This will give you a closeview of the Concorde. However this is a busy street with no place to pull over or park.
You can possibly catch a glimpse if your flight from CDG taxis past the Concorde. When I flew to Paris in 2017, we disembarked our plane and boarded small buses to take us to the terminal. For some reason, when I tried to take photos of the Concorde, the driver yelled at me not to. So I had to be a bit sneaky in taking the photos on my phone.
There are still a number of other Concordes on display around the world, that I hope to visit one day. If you have been to any, please leave some comments below and let us know your experience!