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The Concorde-Gander Connection

by J. Pinsent

Before the initial stages of the Concorde's first flight as a commercial aircraft, one of the initial concerns was the interaction between other subsonic aircraft in air traffic procedures on the North Atlantic. One of the problems to consider was the transition of the Concorde going from subsonic to supersonic speed and visa versa, and also while in supersonic cruise mode. As a result the subject was discussed at a special meeting of the International Civil Aircraft Organization meeting in the late 1960’s. One of the Canadian representatives at these meetings was Mr. Cyril Rowsell, Manager of the Gander Oceanic Control Centre.

Mr. Rowsell recommended the Concorde should use Gander airport as a test bed to develop standards for air traffic control procedures, in addition, to enable BOAC & Air France to develop commercial passenger accommodations during supersonic fight.

The recommended idea was pursued and flight testing commenced in 1974 using Gander airport.  Flights started in Europe carrying test passengers from Europe to Gander and return.  Conversely passengers from Gander were selected from the local population to experience return supersonic flights from Gander to England  & France . Meanwhile air traffic control procedures were being examined and proven. Without a doubt, on a per capita basis, the town of Gander had more of its population that traveled on the Concorde than any other town in the world.

 

 

It was not uncommon to look up to see the Concorde on approach to the Gander airport. After the Concord went into commercial operation, Gander airport was used as the alternate airport to JFK during the occasional conditions it was required.

 

The Concorde was as common in the skies over Gander as a B747 during the 70’s up until its retirement in 2003. Truly an historic airplane that played an important role in Gander airport’s history.

As a side note; a Gander resident and graduate from Hunt Memorial Academy, Mr. Campbell Pritchett, was transferred to JFK while working with BOAC in Gander, became manager of BOAC North America Concorde operations.

For a 3D view of the interior of the Concorde we invite you to visit the Museum of Flight's website.

In addition there are numerous other aircraft where they offer other opportunities to view historic aircraft. Visit the Museum of Flight's website for a worth while experience. If you are ever in Seattle, pay them a visit.

 

contributed by GAHS


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