Feeling afterburner heat
In summer 1991 at around 10.20am I stopped at the Esso Petrol station (which was near the western end of the south runway).
While I filled the car with good old leaded 4 star petrol I heard a familiar sound….. I turned round and with good luck on my side saw Concorde slowly taxing past the runway fence…… I quickly paid for the petrol and parked the car in the petrol station’s small car park and ran to the front of the station with my camera.
I excitedly waited 15 mins (while other planes in front of Concorde took off)….. then I finally saw Concorde move to the end of the runway…… 3 mins later I heard the engines getting louder and louder, the plane slowly moved forward and the pilot lit the afterburners…….When he did this I smelled cooked jet fuel and suddenly felt heat on my face, hands and front part of my body.
As Concorde accelerated past me I used my 70-300 mm zoom lens and started taking pictures of the plane with old Canon AE1 P camera (see a few below).
When she left my field of view and took off in the distance (over Hatton cross) the heat slowly disappeared……I never knew a plane could generate so much heat….. it was a scary thought and I was glad I wasn’t near the fence (as I was standing on the foot path in front of petrol station which I guess was 70 feet from the fence.)
Even from 70 feet away and across a busy dual carriage way I still felt the heat from her afterburners. It was strong enough to radiate across the 70 ft gap I never experienced anything like this in my life.
On one side I was in awe of a plane which had enough power to throw out heat which could be clearly felt from 70ft away but on the other side I was glad I wasn’t anywhere near the airport fence as the afterburners looked extremely dangerous, they had fire coming out of them and there was no way I was going to be any where near them as they where like huge blow torches.
This experience made me respect Concorde more and made me understand that to view Concorde I had to make sure I was far enough away from her to be 100% safe so I wasn’t in any danger in anyway……It made me realise to get a good pictures it was better to invest in powerful zoom lens and stay a safe distance from her, than get close and be in danger.
This is one those magic Concorde moments I’ll always remember.