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Aerospace Bristol is a new industrial heritage museum and learning centre being developed at Filton, to the north of Bristol. It will tell the story of the region's world-class aerospace industry - past, present and future. The Aerospace Bristol project is being run by the Bristol Aero Collection Trust.

Aerospace Bristol News

HRH The Princess Royal attends Gala Dinner celebrating 50 years since Concorde's maiden British flight

Martha Lewington

As Patron of Aerospace Bristol, Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal witnessed the dramatic moment that the last Concorde to fly sprang back to life, as Concorde’s ‘droop nose’ was lowered and the landing lights illuminated for the first time since November 2003.

Aerospace Bristol has celebrated the fiftieth anniversary of Concorde’s first British flight with a dinner kindly attended by HRH The Princess Royal, Patron of the museum.

HRH Princess Anne
HRH Princess Anne

Delivered in partnership with Airbus, the Concorde50 gala dinner was held under the wings of the supersonic passenger jet in Aerospace Bristol’s Concorde Hangar, on the edge of the historic Filton Airfield. It was from there that Concorde first took to the skies from British soil on 9th April 1969, and landed for the final time on 26th November 2003.

HRH Princess Anne
HRH Princess Anne

Fittingly, it was the pilot of that final flight, Captain Les Brodie, who returned to the Flight Deck and - as Her Royal Highness and distinguished guests looked on - operated the controls to lower and raise Concorde’s droop nose and activate her landing lights. The maneuver was possible thanks to careful restoration work by Aerospace Bristol’s Conservation team and volunteers, with Concorde smoothly returning to motion as if waking for the first time since touching down more than 15 years ago.

Nose droop
Nose droop
HRH Princess Anne and Captain Les Brodie

HRH Princess Anne and Captain Les Brodie

Professor Iain Gray CBE, Chair of Aerospace Bristol, said “I am most grateful to Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal, Patron of Aerospace Bristol, for so kindly accepting our invitation to join us in celebrating the fiftieth anniversary of Concorde. The iconic Concorde was an engineering marvel, developed far ahead of its time by talented engineers working on the cutting-edge of 1960s technology. Through our exhibition, inspiring workshops for schools, and Concorde50 events, it is this spirit of innovation that Aerospace Bristol aims to ignite in the engineers of the next fifty years and beyond, encouraging the young people of today to develop the big ideas of tomorrow.”

Katherine Bennett, Senior Vice President Airbus, said: “Concorde has a special place in Airbus’ heart and history. Many of its innovations, from electronic flight controls to anti-skid braking systems, helped inform future aircraft designs. We also maintained the aircraft at Filton for more than 10 years after its final flight.

“To see the aircraft once again at the centre of celebration, helping inspire the next generation of engineers, is fantastic, particularly as we are fast approaching Airbus’ own 50 year milestone which is a celebration of everyone who has the courage to bold and improve things, just as Concorde did.”

Aerospace Bristol will continue its Concorde anniversary celebrations with a series of Concorde50 events taking place throughout the year. The first public moves of Concorde’s droop nose will take place on Saturday 13th April 2019 at 11am and 1pm. An Aerospace Bristol ticket is required and further details can be found at aerospacebristol.org.

Concorde’s 50th anniversary celebrated by cavalcade of Bristol Cars & Buses visiting two Concordes in one day

Martha Lewington

Over 150 passengers travelled from Aerospace Bristol to the Fleet Air Arm Museum on board classic buses and cars

Today marks 50 years since the first test flight of a British-made Concorde was completed - flying from Filton Airport to RAF Fairford in Gloucestershire, a journey taking just 22 minutes but changing the course of aviation history.

Concorde Cavalcade
Bristol buses

To celebrate the anniversary, Aerospace Bristol – the museum that is now home to the last Concorde ever to fly - and the Fleet Air Arm Museum – home to Concorde 002, which first took to the skies 50 years ago today –teamed up to organise a nostalgic journey across the West Country.

Over 150 people visited Concorde Alpha Foxtrot at Aerospace Bristol this morning, before boarding Bristol Buses and Cars and travelling to Yeovilton, where they visited Concorde 002.

Concorde Cavalcade
Concorde Cavalcade

The two museums give visitors the opportunity to discover more about the world's most famous aircraft, from the people behind its initial forays to the edge of space and record-breaking speeds, to the experience for passengers and even the food served on-board.

Aerospace Bristol tells the story of Bristol’s aviation and engineering heritage – from the first powered flights through to the modern day – including how Bristol diversified into the automobile industry and produced the cars and buses that formed the cavalcade today.

The museum will be celebrating Concorde50 throughout the year, with special events taking place around its star attraction Concorde Alpha Foxtrot, the last Concorde ever to fly. Upcoming events include:

Bristol International Balloon Fiesta to celebrate Concorde’s 50th anniversary

Martha Lewington

The Bristol International Balloon Fiesta will return on Thursday 8 to Sunday 11 August and has today announced that the 2019 event will celebrate Concorde’s 50th anniversary.

The Fiesta has joined forces with Aerospace Bristol to honour one of the city’s most famed aviation creations and celebrate Bristol icons across the four days of the free event this summer.

Now in its 41st year, the Bristol International Balloon Fiesta is Europe’s largest annual hot air balloon festival, attracting over half a million visitors over the weekend.

To announce the partnership today, Captain Tim Orchard, a former Concorde pilot and balloonist will be tethering his unusual hot air balloon at Aerospace Bristol. The bespoke hot air balloon is uniquely fitted with the original seats of the 1980s Concorde Tim used to pilot.

The unique balloon will also be a feature at the Bristol International Balloon Fiesta this August. Further details on how the partnership will be visible at the event through activities and special events will be announced in due course.

Bristol International Balloon Fiesta 2019 launch
Bristol International Balloon Fiesta 2019 launch
Bristol International Balloon Fiesta 2019 launch
IMG_1873.JPG

Chris Allcock, chair of the Bristol International Balloon Fiesta organising committee, commented: “Last year we celebrated the 40th anniversary of the Fiesta and we are so pleased to be able to commemorate another one of Bristol’s aviation greats this year.

“Despite the complete juxtaposition of gently flying balloons and supersonic Concorde, both are Bristol aviation icons and are as synonymous with the city as Brunel and the Clifton Suspension Bridge and we look forward to celebrating Concorde’s 50th anniversary this summer with visitors.”

Lloyd Burnell, Executive Director, Aerospace Bristol added: “The fiftieth anniversary of Concorde’s first flight is a hugely significant milestone for a globally-recognised and truly iconic aircraft. It’s a particularly special anniversary for the Bristol region, as so many local people worked on Concorde and every British Concorde made its maiden flight from Filton Airfield. Aerospace Bristol is home to the last Concorde ever to fly and the museum will be celebrating Concorde50 with special events throughout 2019. We’re delighted to announce this partnership with Bristol International Balloon Fiesta and look forward to an event that will surely be a highlight of the year’s Concorde50 celebrations.”

Despite their differences, the relationship between Bristol’s aerospace industry and hot air ballooning dates back decades. Don Cameron, founder of the Fiesta and Europe’s largest hot air balloon manufacturers, Cameron Balloons, first moved to Bristol to take up a position with the Bristol Aeroplane Company in the early 1960s. His enthusiasm for aeronautics and flying led him to build the first modern hot air balloon in Western Europe, the Bristol Belle, with friends from the Bristol Gliding Club in 1967, just two years before Concorde would take its first flight and ten years before the very first Fiesta.

For more information about Concorde’s 50th anniversary, visit www.concorde50.org