This Report was sent by Mike Lavelle. Mike, A former Boeing Employee and Director of Development at the Museum of Flight in Seattle, Worked At Warton for a Couple Of Years On The Nimrod Project. As A Member Of Avro Lancashire He Did A Lot Of Work On Our Behalf And On His Return To The States Was Made A Lifetime Member. For His Part, Mike Regularly Sends Us Reports On Happenings In America. Following Is His Report On A Concorde's Arrival At Its Final Resting Place In Seattle. Whilst Some Of His Humour May Be lost On Non-Members Of Avro Lancashire, I hope You Find This Report Of Great Interest.
Subject: On Assignment Report - A Beautiful Sight
A beautiful sight briefly appeared in the Seattle skies yesterday. The British Airways Concorde B-BOAG flew not only over the city of Seattle but also right over the building where I work at Boeing. Fortunately I was outside on my way to see it land across the street at Boeing Field for its announced ETA of 3:00 PM. I say fortunately because it showed up 40 minute early having set a New York to Seattle speed record for that type and weight aircraft. It flew about 2000 feet directly over my head going from North to South. With the sky above me a cold dark blue and the bottom of the Concorde all white I will never forget the impression the two contrasting colors brought out highlighting the aircraft's beautiful form. All I could say to myself, "I just saw the perfect shape fly by". At the risk for being too aircraft emotional it was a sight I will never forget.
Of course I knew the Concorde was coming. It has been the talk of the town for the last two weeks. Needless to say being an American, who is a card carrying Honorary Englishman, as named by the Royal Order of The Brits in 2002, and not to mention a Life Member of the prestigious Avro Lancashire Society I was most excited to think a part of Britain would be right next to me where I work everyday. Even though I have those incredible credentials, plus being a former Museum of Flight Board Member, you would think I could arrange for myself with all my connections a front row seats for the Concorde grand arrival. That was not to be, despite the fact I told the powers to be who make these decision I knew Trevor Moncrief and Jimmy Dell OBE, in fact I know all the Lancashire committee members. Britain's greatest Balloon Pilot, the former Chief Operations Officer of M5, the eye Doctor who the British send their Olympic Shooting Team, the Mayor of Warton, etc. I even mentioned if things don't go my way the Duke of Warton Base and his Knights of the Tarmac could get involved. Still just a blank face response to my request. Finally I said the Duke goes by the name "Blue". Oh they said, come on in have a seat right here in front with the other 2000 in the front row.
So like everyone else in town I showed up hoping to get the best place which to take a photo or two. As can be seen from the following pictures that didn't work so well. Once the Concorde landed it took another 60 minute to get the aircraft hooked-up to a tug and pull the Concorde into Museum of Flight's receiving area. To my great surprise when it came to the final stop all kinds of folks came off the airplane. I was told they were British Airway Employees and other important British Aviation folks. I managed to ask one if he knew if the World famous plane watcher and Avro Lancashire Member Steve Halstead might be on board taking another trip to the States. This British gentleman told me "Steve was suppose to be with us but the doors of the aircraft shut in New York before he finished recording the planes details in his spotting log and records book".
The Interstate 5 (motorway) south bound traffic just above Boeing Field came to a complete stop as the Concorde made it's final approach to Boeing Field Runway 31L. It took me 90 minute to leave the parking lot after work, which was three hours after the Concorde arrival. On the evening News they said an estimated crowd of 8,500 showed up to see the arrival. That is a lot of folks in a small area.
Even though the Concorde will have a good home here in Seattle and will be admired by many in the years to come, it is very sad to think it will not fly again. This afternoon it will be taken down to the Boeing delivery ramp and the remaining fuel will be taken off along with some avionics that British Airways still can use. It will come back to the Museum of Flight and be placed alongside the first Boeing 747 and 737 for public display. As far as an airplane retirement goes not bad company to be with when your flying days are done. By 28 November the public will be able to have inside tours. Eventually all these aircraft will be displayed inside a building when a British Comet IV will join them.
This morning, as seen in one photo below, I had the opportunity to have a moment alone with the Concorde. Before work at 5:30 AM I walked over to the Museum. In the dark of the morning with the temperature 32F or 0C it was a cold peaceful sight compared to the afternoon arrival of the day before. No one was around, the floodlights highlighted the aircrafts profile and steam from the Museum heating vents wisped over the aircraft giving the illusion the Concorde was still speeding above Mach 1 while parked. It caused one to think what a great aircraft this is, the work it has done and the contribution it has made to our industry. To think next month I will have the opportunity to witness the attempt of the replica Wright Flyer at Kitty Hawk to repeat history made 100 years ago and this month to see the last flight of a Concorde WOW! What a fun it has been this year for those of us fortunate to have this positive aviation addiction to aircraft. The centennial of flight year between the Wright's and the Concorde says it all for powered control fight. I like to thank the British people and British Airways for the loan of your aircraft to the Museum of Flight. I will think of you often when my lunchtime walks take me by your Concorde. You must come see it soon. In the meantime if anyone is coming to Kitty Hawk in December look me up I will be with another big crowd.
Mike Lavelle- On Assignment