By the evening of Tuesday 20th January 1976 preparations were complete – aircraft certification and engineering, crew training and operational planning, passenger services and airport facilities. Plus, of course, the vital co-ordination with Paris to ensure that British Airways and Air France Concorde's would take-off at precisely the same time the following morning. Even fine weather was forecast! 

By mid-morning next day, as Captain Norman Todd, Captain Brian Calvert and Senior Flight Engineer John Lidiard completed their pre-flight preparation they were acutely aware that all departments wishes and efforts were focussed on just one thing – a trouble-free and on-time departure to inaugurate the world’s first supersonic scheduled passenger service.

Aviation history was made at 11.40 (GMT) on Wednesday 21st January 1976. The Society marked this occasion by hosting an evening lecture. 

Lecture video

Lecture and Reception Sponsor:


Rolls-Royce Logo 

About the speakers:

Captain David Rowland FRAeS

David flew VC10s as a co-pilot/navigator until he joined the Concorde fleet as a co-pilot in 1976. Later, after obtaining his command, he became Concorde Flight Manager.

Senior Flight Engineer David MacDonald

Macdonald began an Apprenticeship with BEA in 1955, moving to BOAC as a trainee Flight Engineer on Comet 4s in 1961. There followed 11 years with the VC10 fleet that included both instructor/examiner and ‘front office’ experience. At the formation of Concorde’s ‘Nucleus Group’ he was pleased to accept a Flight Engineer Supt. role and to continue with British aircraft for a further 20 years.

Capt Chris Morley

Chris was a member of the Nucleus Group of Concorde pilots and flight engineers who were trained by the aircraft manufacturer and the test pilots. In preparation for Concorde’s entry into service his responsibility was to plan the route and navigation procedures.

Capt John D.Eames FRAeS

After service in the R.A.F. John joined BOAC and flew worldwide as co-pilot and navigator. He was promoted to command on the Boeing 707 fleet and appointed Training Captain. In 1974 he joined the Concorde Nucleus Group tasked with learning to fly Concorde, fly the Endurance flights, and prepare for entry into service. On 21 January 1976 he was a standby pilot at Heathrow.

Capt Tony Meadows

Tony was part of the Nucleus Group of pilots and flight engineers who were trained by BAC at Filton and by the Concorde test pilots. He then took part in the Endurance Flying program to the Far East and Australia. Prior to Concorde’s entry into service, his particular responsibility was to develop subsonic noise abatement techniques for the take off and climb phases; and a training program for the crews to implement them.

Senior Flight Engineer John Lidiard

John spent nine years involved with Concorde Development including operating as a Flight Test Flight Engineer with British Aerospace. John operated as Flight Engineer on the first Commercial Flight with Captains Norman Todd and Brian Calvert with Chief Test Pilot Brian Trubshaw acting as an observer. John was awarded the Queens Commendation for Valuable Services in the Air.


Concorde's 40th on BBC Radio 4
Listed to Captain David Rowland FRAeS and former Concorde engineer, Dr Kit Mitchell FRAeS, talk about the aeroplane's extraordinary scientific and engineering legacy with presenter Dr Adam Rutherford on BBC Radio 4 'Inside Science' - Concorde's 40th.

Conferences and Events
20 January 2016