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2003: End of an era for Concorde
The legendary supersonic aircraft, Concorde, has landed at the end of its last commercial passenger flight, amid emotional scenes at Heathrow airport.

The final transatlantic flight, ending 27 years of supersonic history, carried 100 celebrities from New York and touched down at 1605 BST.

As it did so, a huge cheer went up from the thousands of people gathered by the runway on a specially-built grandstand.

Two other Concorde flights had already landed a few minutes earlier, one carrying competition winners on a flight from Edinburgh, and the other completing a trip for invited guests around the Bay of Biscay.

Union Jacks

All three aircraft taxied to the BA engineering base, the crews hanging out of the cockpit windows and waving Union Jacks to the crowds.

Actress Joan Collins, who has flown Concorde about 10 times and was on board the flight from New York, said the end of the era was "tragic".

"The first time I ever flew Concorde was a bit of a white knuckle ride.

"I am more used to it now, it's so wonderful to make the journey in three and a half hours," she said.

British Airways has decided to retire the famous aircraft because it is no longer profitable.

'Sadness and celebration'

Concorde's running costs have been spiralling at a time when ticket sales were dwindling in the wake of a catastrophic crash near Paris Charles de Gaulle airport three years ago in which 113 people died.

British Airways chief executive officer Rod Eddington said there was a "mixture of sadness and celebration" about the retirement.

"It is a wonderful plane, an icon, but its time has come," he said. "It's an old plane - it doesn't look it - but it was designed in the 50s and built in the 60s."

The plane, which cost passengers 9,000 a ticket, reached 1,350mph (2,172 kph) and 60,000 feet (18,288 metres) over the Atlantic Ocean during its final flight.

BA and Air France, who worked jointly on developing the aircraft, made an announcement on the retirement in April. The French Concorde's final flight was in May.

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Watch/Listen
Concorde taking off from New York
In the 34 years since its maiden flight Concorde has become an aviation icon

Emotional farewells at Concorde's last passenger flight


In Context
Concorde was seen in the sky on other occasions over the next few months as the seven aircraft owned by British Airways flew to new homes around the world.

One flew to the Grantley Adams Airport in Barbados; another went to a museum in Seattle, while a third is at a floating exhibition in New York.

Others can be seen at Heathrow Airport, Manchester Airport, and Bristol's Filton Airport.

The last Concorde left by road, shipped to Scotland in April 2004 and put on display at the Museum of Flight near Edinburgh.

The French Concordes have also gone to museums, in France, the US and Germany.

A massive auction of Concorde memorabilia was held in Paris in November 2003.

Lots included one of the trademark nose cones, which sold to an anonymous French bidder for nearly $500,000.

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