Aviation Historian 27
K.Hayward - Concorde: Independence Day. The political perspective
Pre-production Concorde F-WTSA is prepared for a test flight.
The first Concorde prototype, 001, registered F-WTSS (for Transport SuperSonique) is rolled out of the Sud Aviation factory at Toulouse on December 11, 1967, to be inspected by 1,000 guests - and the world’s press. This aircraft made the iconic airliner’s first flight at the same venue on March 2, 1969.
Sud Aviation had begun working on “Transport Civil Supersonique” projects in 1958, and by 1961 was able to display a model of its Super Caravelle concept at the Paris Air Salon that May. Few details were provided, but Sud described the model as “representative of the layout which current research is intensively exploring”.
Representing an industrial project of considerable international prestige, there was certainly no shortage of Concorde display models, and this magnificent mid-1960s example in gleaming chrome is seen at a British show accompanied by offspring in the colours of the various airlines that had placed options for the new airliner.
A contemporary display model of Concorde in the colours of United Airlines, one of six American carriers to place an option for the aircraft, the others being Pan American, American Airlines, Braniff, Continental Airlines and TWA - none ended up operating the type
Geoffroy Chodron de Courcel, French Ambassador to the UK (left), and Julian Amery, the UK’s Minister of Aviation during 1962-64, get to grips with a model of Concorde at the signing of the Anglo-French Agreement - actually an international treaty comprising a mere seven articles - at Lancaster House on November 29, 1962.
This late-1960s artist’s impression of a BOAC Concorde confidently streaking through the upper atmosphere leaping continents at supersonic speed was in contrast to the British flag-carrier’s own concerns about the aircraft at the time; namely that it might prove difficult to operate profitably - a concern that proved to be prescient, at least initially.