Page last updated at 10:06 GMT, Thursday, 9 April 2009 11:06 UK

Concorde 40th anniversary marked

Concorde was retired in 2003 due to a drop in demand for flights

Celebrations are taking place to mark the 40th anniversary of the first UK test flight by Concorde, from Filton to RAF Fairford in Gloucestershire.

On the 9 April 1969, the plane flew for 22 minutes over the Bristol Channel, then landed at the airbase.

The jet was retired by British Airways in 2003 because of falling passenger numbers and higher maintenance costs.

Former Concorde staff will gather later at the Fleet Air Arm Museum in Yeovilton to mark the anniversary.

The 9 April flight took place five weeks after a similar test run in Toulouse, France.

The aircraft finally went into service in 1976.

It revolutionised air travel with the journey time from London to New York being reduced to three and a half hours.

In 2003, BA said Concorde would cease flying because of "commercial reasons, with passenger revenue falling steadily against a backdrop of rising maintenance costs for the aircraft".

After being taken out of service, the planes were sent to aircraft museums.

The prototype is now on display at the Fleet Air Arm Museum.

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