Con­corde — the Rise and Fall of the Su­per­sonic Air­liner by Jonathan Glancey www.at­lantic-books.co.uk £20. Hard­back, 309 pages, colour ilus­tra­tion

Pilot - - BOOKS & GEAR -

How wel­come it is to see a spe­cial­ist book from some­one who can write — Jonathan Glancey was for many years the ar­chi­tec­ture and de­sign cor­re­spon­dent of the Guardian and In­de­pen­dent news­pa­pers and is the au­thor of a num­ber of books, in­clud­ing Spit­fire. He is also a pi­lot.

Thus what might ap­pear to be yet an­other book on this widely ex­posed air­craft is ac­tu­ally one very much worth read­ing. Jonathan Glancey sets the facts that we all per­haps think we know in a wider his­tor­i­cal con­text that al­lows more sense to be made of the de­ci­sions that led to the Con­corde pro­gramme and shaped its de­vel­op­ment.

There are also the things we — or at least this re­viewer — didn’t know. To pick one at ran­dom: Con­corde’s planned take­off weight rose from a planned 270,000lb to 400,000, 175,000 of this be­ing the ba­sic air­craft mass (en­gines, 52,000lb and air­frame, 123,000). It was lifting ap­prox­i­mately 1.3 times twice its weight — which is im­pres­sive enough — but what is as­ton­ish­ing is that of the to­tal 225,000lb load, 200,000 was fuel. Con­corde may not have made eco­nomic sense (al­though it was cer­tainly prof­itable to BA) but the au­thor’s en­thu­si­asm is catching: when all is said, what a mag­nif­i­cent achieve­ment it was to trans­port peo­ple at a sus­tained crus­ing speed no jet fighter could match. PW

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