In 2016, I traveled to the U.K for a school trip. I had been to the U.K on previous family vacations but this one felt different. You always wonder; what are the use of school trips? To the student, it feels more like a vacation, than an educational trip. And although, learning is still going on in the subconscious (or ‘incidental’, as they call it in education), this period is mostly one of fun and a moment to recharge your batteries before the final exams at the end of the semester.
Our visit to the Imperial War Museum (IWM) was one of the highlights of the trip. Not only because we were in the presence of history, but it was also a moment of reflection on the technological advancements of decades before us. In order to have a grasp on the future and know where we are going, we have to know where we are coming from, and understand why we are where we are today. That’s why history is important and why museums are important. They transport us back in time. Gives us a sense of what our ancestors felt, and maybe even ignites the hidden greatness that lies within. It’s like looking into a mirror. That’s why I believe that arts and ancient relics stolen from Africa during the colonial raids in the past should be returned to its rightful place, back home where it belongs.
IWM is Britain’s largest aviation museum. As an aeronautical engineering student, I was a kid in a candy store. The museum works together with the Aircraft Restoration Company (ARC) to keep the aircrafts looking exactly how it looked decades ago and in some sort of flyable state. Duxford houses the museum’s large exhibits, including nearly 200 aircraft, military vehicles, artillery and minor naval vessels.
Based on the historic Duxford Aerodrome, the site was originally operated by the Royal Air Force (RAF) during the First World War. During the Second World War Duxford played a prominent role during the Battle of Britain and was later used by United States Army Air Forces fighter units in support of the daylight bombing of Germany. Duxford remained an active RAF airfield until 1961. Many of Duxford’s original buildings, such as hangars used during the Battle of Britain, are still in use (Imperial War Museum, n.d.). I looked forward to seeing all the aircrafts that I had been taught about in school. From the aircrafts that fought in the world wars, and those that changed the course of history like the Spitfire, to those that just didn’t live up to its potential like the Concorde. The Concorde is so unique in many ways and one of my personal favorites. The Concorde had such an elite status that there were more Astronauts in the world than Concorde pilots. Below is a brief history of the Concorde.
There is one aircraft that draws attention wherever it is brought up. The Concorde jet. This is an aircraft that is recognizable by its triangular delta wing and pointed drooped nose. And definitely one of the main attractions at the Aircraft Restoration Company.
The Concorde is infamous for its great supersonic speeds, but poor business strategy. The Concorde could dart through the clouds at speeds greater than Mach 2.23 (1,450 mph/ 2320 kph) outrunning any aircraft, even of today’s standards. The Concorde flew from London to Cape Town, covering 6,000 miles in eight hours and eight minutes, three hours faster than a Boeing 747 in 1977. The Concorde engines guzzled 6,770 gallons/ 25,362.259 Liters of fuel per hour, necessitating ticket prices that climbed into quadruple digits. To account for the price, the service was top-notch and the settings upscale. Boarding a Concorde flight was like winning a lottery ticket. You might just find out you are sitting next to James Bond.
Together with its annoying sonic boom, and the environmental movement in the 1970’s, countries banned the jet from flying over its land area, pushing the aircraft to fly mainly above the sea. In July 2000, the Concorde crashed while taking off, in what many believe could have been avoidable (Why the Concorde is Such a badass plane, n.d.). High maintenance cost, low patronage and growing legal issues put the Concorde in a battle it just could not win. The Concorde flew its last flight on October 24th 2003. A rather dull end to an aircraft that was meant to revolutionize air travel. The Concorde still holds its sex appeal. Its celebrity elite status and the speed craze that we all crave has kept its tales on our lips. Did the Concorde come before its time? And will we see supersonic flight make a comeback? Only time will tell but for now we are left with the memory of what could have been.
I guess school trips are useful. For one, I was able to touch and sit inside a Concorde which was well worth my trip across the English Channel, just not in a Concorde.
Enjoy a pick of my favorite pictures taken during the trip.
Imperial War Museum. (sd). Retrieved from Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Imperial_War_Museum#Imperial_War_Museum_Duxford
Why the Concorde is Such a badass plane. (sd). Retrieved from Popular Mechanics: https://www.popularmechanics.com/flight/airlines/a27206102/concorde-badass-plane/