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Few tears for Concorde as it heads for Scotland.

Byline: By KIRSTY BUCHANAN Western Mail

It seemed an ignoble end for a plane which could travel at twice the speed of sound and took its passengers to the edge of space.

Shorn of its wings and tail, the final British Airways owned Concorde was strapped on to an enormous barge which crawled down the River Thames yesterday making painfully slow progress.

Just months after three BA Concorde roared over the House of Commons in a triumphant final flight, this carcass floated outside the Palace while nimble boats nervously circled the lumbering vessel charting its difficult path under Westminster Bridge.

Buried inside the barge's mighty container for the majority of the six-day journey, the G-BOAA Concorde was raised up between Lambeth and Westminster Bridge as a final salute to London.

Although the sight of Concorde could still pull the crowds, this time no one was crying.

Hundreds lined the Thames but many, after a few snaps, lost patience at the vessel's slow progress.

'Well this is like watching paint dry,' grumbled one while another moaned it was 'just scrap metal'.

This journey's end is not the scrap heap but pride of place in the Museum of Flight, near Edinburgh, where Concorde will live out its retirement as one of the UK's leading aviation attractions.

The National Museums of Scotland beat of competition from 60 other bidders to secure one of BA's seven Concorde fleet and plan to put the 173ft plane on display after a four month restoration project.

Initially delayed because of high tides in the Thames, the plane's final lumbering journey began on Saturday when it was loaded on to a transporter at Heathrow and driven to the tiny Thames port of Isleworth.

The 110-ton plane was then loaded on to a specialist 2,000-ton barge from Newport, called the Terra Marique.

It will continue along the Thames then travel up the east coast of Scotland docking at Torness before the final leg of its journey by road.

The total cost of transporting and exhibiting the aircraft will be pounds 2m and is being funded with the help of a grant from the Scottish Executive.

The G-BOAA aircraft is the last of British Airways' seven decommissioned Concorde to find a home after the decision last year to end passenger service.

The other planes are at Heathrow Airport, Manchester Airport, Bristol's Filton Airport, the Grantley Adams Airport in Barbados, a museum in Seattle, America and a floating exhibition in New York.

G-BOAA first flew in 1975 and its last commercial flight from New York's JFK Airport to London's Heathrow took place on August 2000.

It had notched up 22,769 flying hours in its 25 years of service with 6,842 supersonic flights.

British Airways and Air France announced last April the decision to retire the famous aircraft because it was no longer profitable.
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Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Apr 14, 2004
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