by Frederic Beniada and Michel Fraile, Zenith Press, St. Paul, Minn., 2006, $60.

The name Concorde immediately conjures up mental images of the sleek, arrowlike Air France–British Airways supersonic transport that represented the ultimate in air travel. For me as well as many other aviation enthusiasts, it was a sad but inevitable day when these beautiful aircraft were taken out of service in 2003 because they didn’t pay their way.

Perhaps it was also inevitable that a supersize book would be published to venerate the Concorde era. Concorde features 150 stunning photos of the airliner in various stages of construction and flight. Each large image is almost overwhelming in detail; a few scenes stretch 30 inches across two pages. There are unusual close-up maintenance shots and succinct explanations about test flights and various scientific missions.

Inspired by the Dassault Mirage IV fighter design, the Concorde took air transport passengers into the supersonic age. A total of 20 planes were built through an “equal shares” agreement between Britain and France; 14 of those were used for commercial flights. Of all the Concordes built, six were used for development and testing purposes and the rest were in service for more than 27 years; 14,000 flights were made with paying passengers. Two prototypes, one pre-production aircraft and one production aircraft used for spare parts are in British museums; others are on display in France, Germany and America’s National Air and Space Museum.

Concorde represents an unusually compelling portrait of an extravagant aircraft.


Originally published in the July 2007 issue of Aviation History. To subscribe, click here