G-BOAF - Last flight of Concorde
Ready for take off
A few minutes later in an emotional voice of almost wanting to cry, Heathrow Air Traffic controller 28 year old Brian Ringrose told G-BOAF
BA9020C you’re cleared for take off.
When the pilots heard this they made one final check of G-BOAF’s systems, set the throttles to full power with full afterburner and G-BOAF slowly started her last take-off run.
Although the official line at Heathrow and BA was a stiff upper lip, unofficially Concorde was like a member of their families, she touched every one she met and every one loved Concorde with all their hearts
So for most watching her leave Heathrow was like wathcing one of their much loved family members leave home for ever.
(Not to scale) - Above shows G-BOAF travelling in a left to right direction, starting off small on the left side, getting bigger as she came towards me and went past me and then getting smaller as she went in to the distance she on my right.
Getting good photos in such variable conditions was very very hard to do and it was down to the skill of photographer to zoom the lens in and out as she moved towards you and from left to right.
If you got 1 or 2 good photos you was a good photographer, 3 or more and you was a great photographer.
As G-BOAF rocketed past me even with those DIY ear plugs the noise she made hurt my ears and I couldn’t hear my self think but wow what a noise from a wonderful plane.
At the same time as she was thundering past me, people standing around me wanted to see her more, some behind me quickly started pulling and pushing me…… while most next to me suddenly got their heads in the way (as every one struggled to see G-BOAF), at the time this was extremely frustrating and at one point I did shout "get your heads out of the (bleeeeeeep) way".
Due to them instead of getting good photos I got the following
Map of G-BOAF’s last take off run on Runway 27R
In the distance we heard her engines getting louder and louder, I got more and more excited, I put the camera to my eye and followed her every move (from the start of her take-off run to her leaving the ground and disappearing in to the sky).
(From where I was standing) G-BOAF was travelling in a left to right direction. While G-BOAF was in the distance she was small and slow and was easy to take a few pictures, but as she got closer and closer, she got faster and faster, louder and louder, as she went past me she went into warp drive and I knew nothing could stop her.
The black blobs in the pictures are peoples heads getting in the way, the thin almost faint lines are from the airport fence (which the camera’s auto focus sensors saw all the time and hence photos are not pin sharp), the thick black lines are lamp posts, the nose cut off is where peoples heads were next to the camera and I couldn’t see past them quickly enough.
All this was extremely extremely annoying..........
Luckily due to her noise people couldn’t hear me shouting expleetives, Looking back I’m glad they didn’t as I didn’t want to get a black eye from any one, but it was extremely frustrating knowing this was her last ever take off….. this was it there was no more Concorde after this but I couldn’t take all the pictures I wanted purely due to huge numbers of people getting in the way and due to me not having airside access to take the photos I wanted.
During the last 27 years I asked the Managing director of Heathrow many times to grant me an airside pass to see Concorde, but due to his own reasons he never gave me that pass, so I had to stand on the public side of the airport fence and take photos of her, I did my best and I still got a few good pictures.
At the time I had the same camera and lenses that the professional photographers had. If he had allowed me airside access I would have stood next to the fence and would have taken even better pictures…..I would taken the best pictures of her ever as the fence + people would not have got in the way and I would have had a crystal clear view to take photos of her but I never got that chance……………….
G-BOAF thundered in to the sky at around 11-ish-am, as she left the ground she was louder than ever, her roar and her sheer animal might shook the ground under us……It felt like a baby earth quake, it felt like she knew she was leaving Heathrow for good but wasn’t going to go out silently, she wasn’t going to cry and let people who did this nasty thing to her think they had beaten her, no way …….
She made sure the whole world knew who she was and knew she was there, she left Heathrow with her held high and rapidly headed towards her new home at Filton (via the Bay of Biscay) where she knew she would be appreciated and loved.