CONCORDE-THE INSIDE STORY

'LE BANG SONIQUE' is how the French referred to the boom produced by Concorde+s wake as she cruised the high blue at twice the speed of sound.

'LE BANG SONIQUE' is how the French referred to the boom produced by Concorde+s wake as she cruised the high blue at twice the speed of sound. The term was employed emotionally by the aircraft+s opponents and taken up by government representatives of competing national airlines who opposed Concorde overflight on specious environmental grounds while seeking reciprocal expansion of their own airline+s business-does nothing change? All this and more is contained within Brian Trubshaw+s excellent new book detailing the development, flight testing and introduction to service of the Concorde fleet.

This colourful book charts the sometimes painful evolution of this magnificent aeroplane providing a comprehensive and mature technical reference for an aircraft that, despite recent tragic events near Paris, remains something of a national icon. Concorde, for many people, represents the equivalent of +our+ Apollo moon shot programme: a visible and head-turning manifestation of sixties Britain+s participation in the white hot technological revolution. Brian Trubshaw+s description of delivering a project as complex as Concorde, working with two separate engine and airframe manufacturers plus two very separate governments (one with a rather negative opinion of the project) is almost as interesting as the book+s authoritative aeronautical content.

The book is an easy and relaxing read with the author+s style adding humour and vitality to the text clarifying, without going overboard, much of the aeroplane+s fascinating complexity. What a shame that some TV +experts+ did not dip into this book to check their facts before reporting the Paris tragedy-I lost count, for example, of the number of occasions that the aircraft+s pneumatic thrust reverse capability was reported as being achieved by 'giant hydraulic reverse thrusters'

Specific aspects of the aeroplane+s development and operation are detailed in individual chapters resulting in some minor repetition but I, for one, could read about intake and autoflight design all day. There are some excellent flying stories too, including an arrival into Bombay as the monsoon arrived, curtailing demonstration flights under the guise of unserviceability. I also enjoyed the story of the British Aerospace sales team effusively welcoming the first person to arrive at a Middle Eastern reception only to discover that the poor chap was the pianist booked for the evening+s entertainment.

Concorde, The Inside Story is a fine testimony to the persistence and leadership required to keep alive a complex multinational project, despite its many detractors. The world of aviation would be far poorer without this successful and beautiful aeroplane.

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