Ten Years Later: Remembering The Fated Concorde Flight AF4590
July 23, 2010: Yahoo News Editors / The Starting Point – July 23, 2010
Ten years ago, the Concorde was the fastest and safest commercial airliner on the planet.
Since its debut in 1969, the turbojet-powered supersonic plane flew well-to-do travelers from London and Paris to New York City and Washington D.C. in less than half the time of other airlines.
That all changed on the afternoon of July 25, 2000, when an Air France Concorde jet crashed shortly after take-off from Charles de Gaulle Airport, killing 113 people, BBC News reported.
The only fatal incident involving the Concorde occurred that day when Flight 4590 struck a titanium fragment left on the runway by a Continental Airlines DC-10 that had taken off four minutes earlier, Aviation-Safety.net reported. The debris punctured a tire on the Concorde, causing it to explode. A piece of rubber hit the fuel tank, which burst into flames. As the fire spread to the left wing, the engine stalled and the aircraft dropped out of the sky.
According to ABC News, the jet crashed into the Hotelissimo Hotel in Gonesse, France, killing all 100 passengers and nine crew members on board as well as four people on the ground. Rescue crews made it to the scene within eight minutes, but it still took them three hours to get the blaze under control. Click here to view photos from the scene.
The disaster, coupled with rising maintenance costs and the slump in demand for air travel following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, eventually led to the Concorde’s demise. The final Concorde flight occurred in the fall of 2003, after which time the entire fleet was retired.
In its heyday, the Concorde regularly crossed from Europe to the States in less than three and a half hours, which allowed westward-bound passengers who paid attention to changing time zones to arrive before their departure time. The Concorde also set numerous world records, including the fastest transatlantic flight (2 hours, 52 minutes and 59 seconds), Reuters reported. In 1992, the Concorde circumnavigated the world in 32 hours, 49 minutes and 3 seconds to commemorate the 500th anniversary of Christopher Columbus’ New World landing.
A ceremony in honor of the crash victims will be held in Gonesse, on Sunday morning. Scheduled events include a speech from a witness to the crash and a moment of silence.
The Tonka Report Editor’s Note: I remember two very distinct science and technology events in 1969: The now questionable ‘moon landing’ by Apollo 11 on July 20, and the introduction of the Concorde… – SJH
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