Save the bird

R. A. Hettinga rah at
Sat Oct 25 08:45:11 PDT 2003


The Telegraph


Save the bird
(Filed: 25/10/2003)

The internet was buzzing with websites and chat rooms bemoaning the demise
of Concorde yesterday, showing just what an icon it has become. If you
tuned in to the television coverage or turned up at Heathrow to watch, you
could see why. One of the great engineering triumphs of the past century is
now reduced to the status of a curiosity. But it was eye-catching to the
end and it was a perfect autumn day as, one by one, the three Concordes
followed the glistening path of the Thames before landing. This time, the
famous drooping nose cones looked rather sad.

Of course, the great bird never made any economic sense and burnt its way
through the equivalent of £20 billion of public money in order to get
airborne. The 200-or-so orders disappeared because of one of the first
global protest movements. It was called Ban the Bang and was run by an
eccentric couple from the Midlands. But they successfully caused overfly
rights to be withdrawn, not least by India, which resented the idea of
being woken up every night by an unwelcome sonic boom. But whatever its
critics say, Concorde is a reminder that the death of British engineering
is exaggerated. The aircraft's glorious shape and amazing specification are
in the fine tradition of all our national engineering follies, such as
Brunel's Great Eastern or even Formula One racing.

Now, just the kind of popular protest movement that originally did for the
project is trying to keep Concorde flying. British Airways claims it is
going to put its five aircraft in a museum, although one might be kept
airborne for shows and anniversaries. That is the least the airline can do,
given that it effectively received the aircraft for free. And Richard
Branson is still trying to persuade BA to let him have a stab at operating
a service commercially. If you don't want to see the beautiful bird
grounded - it was, after all, funded by the taxpayer - you can sign a
petition at .

R. A. Hettinga <mailto: rah at>
The Internet Bearer Underwriting Corporation <>
44 Farquhar Street, Boston, MA 02131 USA
"... however it may deserve respect for its usefulness and antiquity,
[predicting the end of the world] has not been found agreeable to
experience." -- Edward Gibbon, 'Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire'

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