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Last Updated: Monday, 21 July, 2003, 13:49 GMT 14:49 UK
French Concorde reaches new home
German museum experts are preparing to start reassembling a "kit form" Concorde which travelled from France by air, river and road.

The Air France Concorde was stripped of its wings, engines and tail section for the journey to the museum in Sinsheim.

The last trip, on land and water

Thousands of Germans lined motorway bridges in the middle of the night to wave and cheer as a giant truck bearing the Concorde body drove past.

Thousands more were at the museum to greet the Concorde, which will be displayed on a giant stand above the existing museum roof.

The aircraft had completed an earlier part of the journey down the river Rhine, floating on a giant pontoon.

Museum bosses hope Concorde's arrival will boost visitor numbers by 30%, but say the scale of the German welcome took them aback.

Map showing route taken by Concorde
"It was amazing," project director Michael Einkoern told BBC News Online. "From one o'clock in the morning, right through to five o'clock, every bridge was crowded.

"People were clapping, waving - they were really crazy.

"Concorde has this mystique - it's the only supersonic plane, and it's beautiful."

The combined weight of Concorde and the transporter lorry - 140 tonnes - and the width of the aircraft made it one of the trickiest moves the museum has ever undertaken.

But the operation went without a hitch, said Mr Einkoern.

Traffic signs and lights had to be dismantled and trees had to be cut down for the 35km (22-mile) motorway journey.

"If someone had said to me six months ago that I would be driving a 25-metre wide aircraft on the motorway one day, I would have said they were crazy," said lorry driver Heinz Roessler.

The only challenge now is to put the pieces back together, which is expected to take around two weeks.

Visitors to the museum can already see Concorde on the ground, and it should be hoisted into its new home above the roof by next Easter.

The 90-tonne plane will be on show alongside its former rival, Concordski - the Soviet-made Tupolev 144.

The French plane completed 5,500 flights in 27 years of service.

Other Air France Concordes will go on display in France at Le Bourget, Toulouse, Paris and the US.

The sixth plane in the fleet crashed on take-off from Paris in July 2000, killing 113 people.

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