G-BOAF - Last flight of Concorde

Journey to Heathrow

I wasn’t expecting to see the same amount of people as I’d seen on 24 Oct 2003. Although the crowds were not as big  there where a lot of people and I was scared that I wouldn’t get a good place to see her……….

As I walked closer I saw a large wooden bench next to the perimeter fence, I saw people with step stools and foot stools similar to mine….. I saw people with SLR cameras and huge zoom lenses……I walked close to the fence and saw a good spot, put my blue stool down and stood on it and felt this is “my spot“…..the spot wasn’t perfect as there were huge fence posts, dotted at close regular intervals all the way to right of me, but to get good take-off run and leaving-the-ground photos it was a good spot and in the past while standing here I did get good results, so it was good enough for me.

While I stood there it was extremely cold and it was starting to lightly rain, As the rain fell it made things even wetter and colder than before and my hands where starting to go maroon with the cold……While standing there waiting for Concorde, more and more people come to that spot, police cars were going up and down that road at fairly regular intervals, police officers were casually standing behind the crowds and watching us all.

I was expecting them to act like little Hitlers and  suddenly come over and move us all along (as they usually did) but to my pleasant surprise today they didn’t, they just stood there and watched us which was great (I wished they had been like this during summer 2003 but they never where).

Many people recognised me, came up to me and congratulated me for my Concorde flight and we all happily chatted. It was great to see them, it was a very warm, safe and lovely feeling………….But my main priority was to make sure I got good Concorde photos so while chatting with them, one of  my eyes and ears were always keeping a look out on the runway and part of my mind was calculating at what spots on the runway she could leave the ground and what shutter speed I would need to freeze her in action.

Then I saw my Concorde friends Lurch and Declan. It was wonderful to see them, we were all in good and briefly chatted, but we were all in an anxious mood as we didn’t want to miss her take-off……..

Ready for take off

Very early in the morning in the Concorde hangers, Concorde engineers made G-BOAF safe and ready for one last supersonic flight.

It was a very sad and sombre occasion as countless engineers loved Concorde with their hearts and some had worked on G-BOAF from the first day she had arrived at Heathrow in June 1980 up to now so G-BOAF was part of their lives and careers.

Today was G-BOAF’s last ever day at Heathrow and it hurt like hell, at around 7-ish am with great sadness the engineers pulled her out of the Concorde hangers and started the slow, long and final trip of Concorde to Heathrow Airports main terminals.

Just like her sisters she never saw her old parking space outside the Concorde lounge at Terminal 4, instead she was destined to be towed to a lesser parking space at Terminal 1.

Just as the engineers started to pull her out of the hangers and  parked her for a bit in the drive way outside the hangers it started to rain, but at the same time the Sun came out and you saw almost 2 rain bows near G-BOAF.

A few mins later the dark clouds covered the sun and it started to rain hard, it was almost like a monsoon and it felt like even god was crying at the sight of G-BOAF leaving Heathrow……On her way to the Concorde crossing gates at East Church Rd G-BOAF said a final goodbye to her sister Concordes G-BOAA and G-BOAB then she was slowly towards the Concorde crossing gates for one last time.

At 8am she got to the Concorde crossing gates and one of my friends Peter Sheil  was there with a few others ready to greet her, as she stood there drenched to the skin in cold hard November rain Peter took photos of her at the Concorde crossing for the final time

Map of G-BOAF being towed from the Concorde

Hangers  to Terminal 1

Above are the photos Peter Sheil took.

At the Concorde Crossing

After this G-BOAF was slowly towed across East Church road towards her final destination at Terminal 1.