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Giving passengers the trip of a lifetime

PUBLISHED: 10:40 30 March 2019 | UPDATED: 10:40 30 March 2019

Concorde at RAF Coltishall, 11 July 1987. Photo: Archant Library

Concorde at RAF Coltishall, 11 July 1987. Photo: Archant Library

Archant Library

It was a once-in-a-lifetime treat when Concorde flew from RAF Coltishall.

Concorde at RAF Coltishall, 11 July 1987. Photo: Archant LibraryConcorde at RAF Coltishall, 11 July 1987. Photo: Archant Library

The exciting occasion happened on July 11, 1987, when the plane made two special flights in and out of the airbase, organised by the EDP.

At the time, the paper reported that the mastermind behind the whole operation was Group Captain John Collier, while Wing Commander David Anderson was responsible for sorting out all the complex engineering details.

Concorde at RAF Coltishall, 11 July 1987. Photo: Archant LibraryConcorde at RAF Coltishall, 11 July 1987. Photo: Archant Library

Wg Cdr Anderson explained: “There could have been problems handling an aeroplane like this, because it is completely and utterly different from our own transport.

One basic difficulty was starting Concorde’s jet engines, which required a blast of high-pressure gas from a turbine.

Concorde at RAF Coltishall, 11 July 1987. Photo: Archant LibraryConcorde at RAF Coltishall, 11 July 1987. Photo: Archant Library

The airbase was able to borrow a second suitable turbine from another RAF station. It also had to borrow steps long enough to reach the lofty passenger door and a diesel-driven power pack to provide electricity.

A Coltishall couple, Stanley and Jean Medley, won a trip on the plane in an EDP competition, complete with a supersonic champagne send-off.

Concorde at RAF Coltishall, 11 July 1987. Photo: Archant LibraryConcorde at RAF Coltishall, 11 July 1987. Photo: Archant Library

Mr Medley, a footwear manufacturer’s agent, told the newspaper their 90-minute trip over the North Sea and arrival at Heathrow was “fantastic, excellent, absolutely perfect”.

During the flight, an engineer explained every detail of the overnight stay to the passengers, and even talked them through the landing.

Concorde at RAF Coltishall, 11 July 1987. Photo: Archant LibraryConcorde at RAF Coltishall, 11 July 1987. Photo: Archant Library

Passengers who had flown from Coltishall then spent a night at the Kensington Hilton Hotel.

Mr Medley added: “The really perfect thing was, when we got into the air, there was a Lightning aircraft gliding alongside taking pictures. It was absolutely fantastic.”

Another passenger, Nora Lee from Aylsham, was given the flight as a surprise 85th birthday present by her three daughters, and told the paper: “It was absolutely wonderful. I enjoyed every minute of it.

“I have been round the world in my younger days but it was nothing like this. Concorde is so much more comfortable, and there is more room.”

Ann Lloyd, aged 90, was another of the oldest passengers. A former stewardess on the Queen Mary, she travelled from her home in Portsmouth to Heathrow to catch a flight to RAF Coltishall.

There were also youngsters on the special flights, including Verity Bertram, aged eight. Ben Fisher, 10, met Flight Engineer Peter Ling on the flight deck.

‘I knew that I would never again be able to fly at over twice the speed of sound.’

Read more - Memories of a special flight on Concorde

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