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Last Updated: Thursday, 23 October, 2003, 17:34 GMT 18:34 UK
Concorde enjoys Cardiff farewell
Concorde in Cardiff
The Welsh flag appeared shortly after the jet touched down

Concorde spent more than four hours on the tarmac at Cardiff International Airport on Thursday as part of a week-long UK tour before being retired from commercial use.

The supersonic jet touched down just before midday, and left just after 1630 BST.

When it landed, the pilot opened the cockpit window and out popped a Welsh flag to mark its arrival as it pulled up outside the BA hangar.

Among those who disembarked at Cardiff after a 90-minute trip from Heathrow were competition winners Christina and Marvin Pryce-Jones from Solihull in the Midlands.

"It was excellent - an experience of a lifetime," said Mrs Pryce-Jones.

It's a part of history...it's Britain at its best
Steve Mackey

The couple had got up at 0400 BST to get to Heathrow and now will be bussed back to London before returning to Solihull in the English Midlands.

"It was well worth the trip and the lack of sleep," she added.

Clare Frost, from Cardiff, was one of those replacing them on a trip, but admitted she was nervous.

"I am not particularly fond of flying, but we had a raffle at work that I won," she said.

Simon Baxendale, from Dinas Powys, was cabin services director on the final flight to Wales:

"It was unbelievable. I wish I had the words to express how I feel," he said.

"To bring Concorde to my home town - it's a pefect ending and means so much to me."

For this final historic flight a car park was set aside to cope with the influx of plane spotters.

Cars were also parked around the perimeter fence of the airport and along many of the country roads leading to it.

Concorde at Cardiff International Airport on Thursday
Thousands gathered to see the jet's last appearance in Wales

Steve Mackey, from Rhondda, south Wales, made sure of his place by arriving early.

"It's a part of history," he said. "It's Britain at its best - it's the end of an era."

Graeme Gamble, operations director at the airport, said the visit had taken a great deal of planning.

"We've been preparing for seven weeks - it's a surprisingly large operation," he said.

Transatlantic

Concorde first came to Cardiff in October 1979 when an Air France aircraft flew passengers to Paris.

In September the jet on a transatlantic flight was forced to make an unexpected landing at the airport because of fuel problems.

Concorde
Concorde is being retired at the end of the week

The supersonic jet's final day of service on Friday will see the last UK Concorde arrive in Heathrow from Edinburgh, to coincide with the last transatlantic flight from New York's JFK Airport.

The first Concorde flight left Toulouse in France on 2 March,1969, and the first British flight took to the skies a month later.

Concorde has been carrying commercial passengers since 1976.

A fall in passenger numbers and high maintenance costs have been blamed for the decision by British Airways and Air France to retire the supersonic jet.




SEE ALSO:
In pictures: Farewell to Concorde
17 Oct 03  |  In Pictures
In pictures: Concorde in Cardiff
23 Oct 03  |  Photo Gallery
Why I travelled to see Concorde
23 Oct 03  |  Wales
Spending a day with Concorde
23 Oct 03  |  Wales



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