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London to New York in under 4 hours – Concorde, 50 years later

Tim Newton

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London to New York in under 4 hours – Concorde, 50 years later | The Thaiger

We’d flown in propeller-powered planes, then jets. Supersonic was the next evolutionary step in flying people around the world as the 1960s came to a close.

Nearly 50 years after Concorde’s maiden flight, supersonic flight is just another aviation pipe dream again as we queue up for cheap ‘flying buses’ which are not much different from the first successful commercial jets that flew in the late 1950s.

Flying, once a little bit glamorous, is now a trudge. Whilst Air Asia boasts that ‘Now Everyone Can Fly’, there was a time when flying was something you saved up months, or years, for. And you used to dress up too – no shorts and T-Shirts!

Just months before the Apollo 11 launch and Neil Armstrong’s walk on the moon, the Concorde made its maiden flight in March 1969. The western world had just gone through a dramatic decade of change – music, politics, fashion, culture, war – and the Concorde would be the crowning technical glory of that tumultuous 10 years.

Only 20 were ever built but the best of Britian and France’s combined engineering excellence would not be able to overcome the decade ahead with a fuel crisis – the Concorde was a big jet fuel burner – and a new interest in ‘the environment’. The fuel crisis of the early 1970s and country’s concerns about the impact of sonic booms over voter’s heads, would leave only British Airways and Air France flying the Concorde on regular commercial services.

London to New York in under 4 hours - Concorde, 50 years later | News by The Thaiger

PHOTO: It wasn’t just fast, it was a lifestyle – It’s Nice That

Whilst the man landing on the moon grabbed the headlines, the Concorde was an equally brilliant masterpiece of engineering and a breathtaking distraction when compared to ‘normal’ jets. It’s swept-back wings, pointy nose, slim-line passenger cabin, all made it look, well, supersonic!

But its sleek, timeless lines were more an artifact of the physics required to fly the plane at 60,000 feet at twice the speed of sound. Even the designers admit they had little ‘wriggle room’ in the design. That it still looks like a futuristic design in 2018, fifty years after it was designed, is amazing.

A new book titled Supersonic: The Design and Lifestyle of Concorde, written by Lawrence Azerrad, lavishes love on the plane and the lifestyles of the people who flew it.

“A lot of designs that were inspired by the dream and optimism of the jet age retain an air of the era in which they were born. They were futuristic at the time, but they definitely seem nostalgic now.” said Lawrence, speaking to CNN.

Concorde flew commercially for 27 years, from 1976 to 2003, and brought London and New York closer together with a flying time of under four hours, typically a 7.5 hour flight.

“Concorde wasn’t originally intended to be this exclusive bird of the rich and famous,” said Azerrad.

“All airlines had orders for supersonic planes. It was only once political and ecological objections made it commercially untenable that it became an ultra-premium experience.”

Concorde’s eventual demise started on July 25, 2000 when an Air France Concorde, departing Paris, sucked up a piece of debris into its engines during take-off. The flaming Concorde took off but crashed soon after, killing all 113 people onboard. In an otherwise flawless service history, the tragedy grounded the remaining fleet. Services resumed 16 months later but the Concorde would not survive the new era of airlines operated by accountants and share-holders. The final flight was from New York to Heathrow on October 24, 2003.

London to New York in under 4 hours - Concorde, 50 years later | News by The Thaiger

This writer was saving up for a flight from London to New York in the Concorde during the late 1990s – a trip in my generation’s most outstanding engineering achievement. To me it was a thing of beauty and a trip of a lifetime. It never happened due to the eventual failure of the airlines to sustain a business model.

With only 100 seats, all business-class sized and only four seats across, it wasn’t a large cabin. But, as you watched the speedometer climb to Mach 2, you could look outside at the dark purple sky and ponder the curvature of the earth, 60,000 feet about the ground (18,200 metres).

“It was kind of like a social club in the sky,” said author Azerrad.

“You could have Paul McCartney leading a sing-along of Beatles songs with the entire airplane, or Phil Collins famously taking the plane to play at Live Aid in the UK and the US on the same day. And then royalty, of course: the queen, the pope, countless heads of states.”

Concorde wasn’t the only supersonic passenger jet to fly. The Soviet-built Tupolev Tu-144 – which looked remarkably similar but “lacked the elegance and grace of Concorde,” according to Azerrad – had a brief commercial stint in the late 1970s.

By all accounts the Tu-144 had all the finesse of a KGB interrogation.

Supersonic: The Design and Lifestyle of Concorde, published by Prestel, is available now.

London to New York in under 4 hours - Concorde, 50 years later | News by The Thaiger

PHOTO: Daily Mail



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Tim Newton has lived in Thailand since 2012. An Australian, he has worked in the media, principally radio and TV, for nearly 40 years. He has won the Deutsche Welle Award for best radio talk program, presented 3,200 radio news bulletins in Thailand alone, hosted 360 daily TV news programs, produced 1,800 videos, TV commercials and documentaries and now produces digital media for The Thaiger - Website, Radio, TV, Instagram and Facebook.

Thailand

Floating clinic opens in Kanchanaburi

The Thaiger

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Floating clinic opens in Kanchanaburi | The Thaiger

PHOTO: Pattaya Mail

Last week saw residents and visitors to Srinakaring Dam in Sri Sawat district, Kanchanaburi, in Thailand’s west, witness the first day of operations of a new floating medical unit.

The Bangkok Post reports that the dam is a huge tourist magnet which attracts 800,000 tourist a year in an area where 140 businesses operate and over 600 towing rafts reside. Due to reports of accidents (sometimes with fatal results) the Public Health Ministry’s Health Region 5 came up with the ‘floating clinic’.

The clinic boasts a solar cell power system able to function during power outages, as well as modern and efficient communications systems in case of emergencies. The floating clinic is equipped with beds for check-ups, respirators, medical supplies and basic lifesaving equipment.

The project will provide help to tourists and locals in case medical attention is required. Depending on the severity there are referral vessels such as jet skis and speedboats available for quick access to local hospitals, with helicopter landing pads planned for the near future.

SOURCE: The Bangkok Post 

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Bangkok

Top 10 most popular Asian cities 2018 – Agoda

The Thaiger

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Top 10 most popular Asian cities 2018 – Agoda | The Thaiger

Bangkok ranks on top of the list of most-visited Asian city tourist destination for 2018. This is from Agoda, a fast-growing online travel booking platform. With millions of online bookings each year they have the data to back up their findings.

Other cities in the top 10 include Tokyo, Kuala Lumpor, Hong Kong, Osaka, Taipei, Seoul, Singapore, Bali and Pattaya.

Agoda says both Thai and foreign tourists would normally lodge in Bangkok for a night or more before continuing to the other destinations.

Agoda also reported that Thailand was placed second after Japan among Asian countries most visited by tourists because of the country’s rich cultural and historical tourist attractions, clean beaches and world-class cuisine.

The 10 most popular cities among Thai tourists are Bangkok, Pattaya, Chiang Mai, Hua Hin, Phuket, Tokyo, Khao Yai, Chon Buri, Krabi and Chiang Rai.

The most-favoured country for sight-seeing among Thai tourists is Japan followed by Singapore.

Top 10 most popular Asian cities 2018 - Agoda | News by The Thaiger

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Bangkok

Nude couple pictured on top of Egyptian pyramid sparks investigation

The Thaiger

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Nude couple pictured on top of Egyptian pyramid sparks investigation | The Thaiger

“Climbing pyramids is illegal in Egypt, with critics saying the incident shows a disregard for the nation’s laws and its conservative society.”

The question of tourists and their behavior at national monuments and popular sites comes up again today. This time in Egypt…

Read the report HERE.

“A video that shows a foreign couple in a naked embrace at the summit of the Great Khufu Pyramid of Giza is sparking reaction among Egyptians.

The three-minute video recorded at night shows a man and a woman scaling what appears to be the Great Pyramid of Giza with the skyline of Cairo in the background. When they reach the top, the video shows the woman taking off her shirt and finishes with a still image of them in a naked embrace.

Minister of Antiquities Khaled al-Anani called it a violation of public morality, and said the incident and the video will be investigated by the attorney general.”

It’s happened often enough in Thailand where locals believe that foreign tourists have ‘defiled’ their monuments with poor behaviour. The incidents are often innocent affairs where tourists have climbed over something the locals perceive as sacred, all the way to posing with their naked butts in front of famous temples.

Read about that fiasco HERE.

Nude couple pictured on top of Egyptian pyramid sparks investigation | News by The Thaiger

Or a more recent example in Chiang Mai HERE.

Or this one in Ayutthaya HERE.

How can tourists know exactly what is expected of them at some of these monuments? Is it the responsibility of local authorities to alert foreign tourists about expected behaviour? In some case it may not be 100% clear about what is, and what isn’t, allowed.

Share your thoughts on our Facebook post about the topic HERE. You haven’t ‘liked’ our Facebook page? Make sure you do when you’re there and keep up-to-date with what’s happening in Thailand.

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