No we are not that old to be celebrating our 40th Anniversary today! In fact we've only been married just over two years having lived "in sin" for about fifteen years.
The 40th anniversary to celebrate (and to some extent also mourne) today is the first British test flight of Concorde. On this day forty years ago the British prototype of Concorde took to the air for the first time from Bristol. If you click here you can see archive footage from the BBC. Older readers will feel nostalgia too in hearing the unique voice of commentator Raymond Baxter.
Concorde was, and remains a wonderful achievement. We got it wrong economically in so far as we should have been making a "Jumbo Jet" equivalent of the Boeing 747. However Concorde was an amazing technical achievement. I remember following its development in my youth; the collaboration with the French, the cost overruns, the initial intransigence of the Americans in not allowing it into their country because they hadn't built it, the effects of the oil crisis in 1973 and the resulting poor sales.
Much later, in the 1980's when I lived in first Kew and later Brentford, I would see (and/or hear) it fly past on its way into Heathrow at 6pm and 10pm each evening. On a Sunday evening we'd quite often drive up to Heathrow by the runway end to see the 6pm flight come in. An amazing audio-visual experience of which we never tired. I never got to fly in Concorde, but I almost did. I actually booked a special flight through Goodwood Travel to take Concorde to the Monaco Grand Prix. I got it at a real bargain price but the organisers subsequently reneged on the deal I booked. I think they mispriced it and then cancelled my booking.
So to my lasting regret I never flew in her before she was withdrawn from service. On her last Sunday in service we took a very young Troy Junior to see Concorde land. He was too young to remember it but he can still say that he saw her. On the day of her last flight I took the afternoon off work and took the Piccadilly line out to the station before the airport. There, along with many others, I saw three Concordes come in to land one after the other, capturing it on video forever.
Concorde is also unique in so far as when she was withdrawn from service she was not replaced by something superior. Instead the withdrawal marked a backward step for aviation. So if you've a few minutes to spare in your busy day take a nostalgic click on the link above and see vintage footage of Concorde's first British test flight.