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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 20 November 2018

Time Frame: The Golden age of flight: Concorde lands in Abu Dhabi

Concorde on Middle East trials - It takes a stretch of the imagination to picutre the supersonic airliner Concorde swooping down to land at Abu Dhabi’s Al Bateen Airport. Yet that is exactly what happened on an August day in 1974. Concorde, which was only operated by British Airways and Air France, never flew a scheduled service to the Arabian Gulf. But it did come to the UAE before going into service, in a trip that included Dubai, Qatar, Kuwait and Muscat. The visit was a demonstration tour designed (unsuccessfully) to drum up new customers but also to prove the aircraft’s hot weather capability in the height of a Gulf summer.

In those days, Al Bateen was the international airport. British Airways briefly ran a scheduled supersonic service to Bahrain when the aircraft went into service in 1976, but this was quickly superseded by the more profitable North Atlantic route.

This photograph was taken by Peter Alvis, who lived and worked in Abu Dhabi from 1973 to 1975. He remembers that: “Our office was in line with the runway and when Concorde took off we thought the office was about to collapse, as the whole place was shaking.” Courtesy Peter Alvis

* James Langton