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Traveling elegantly by air.

Until the next supersonic transport takes wings from the drawing board, the Concorde is in a class by itself--in the stratosphere. Much more than just a "fast plane," it's another breed of bird. It's also the perfect mode of transportation for travelers returning stateside after a leisurely Atlantic crossing aboard the QE2. Talk about contrast!

Neither a jumbo nor a wide-body carrier, the Concorde has 100 broad, comfortable seats, two on either side of the aisle, making it resemble a first-class section--which is indeed the only class it contains.

Although the Concorde is long, slim, and gracefully curved, its speed--more than its elegant beauty--lures air travelers. Passengers can fly from one continent to another duriday in slightly more than three hours, and never incur jet lag. It takes no more time than a leisurely lunch--which is what is served on this super deluxe plane.

Takeoff feels like a liftoff as power is unleashed. Thirty seconds from the start, at 250 miles per hour, the plane is off the ground. Before reaching 30,000 feet, the Concorde passes through the so-called sound barrier, which the captain explains is not a barrier at all. Passengers experience nothing out of the ordinary when exceeding the speed of sound.

On the bulkhead are the constantly changing readings for speed, outside temperature, Mach number, and miles to go, all of which are more interesting to watch than a movie.

The captain describes the speed at Mach 2 (1,340 mph) this way: If the plane should pass over a 747 going in the same direction, the 747 would appear to be going approximately 800 mph backwards.

The flight is supersonic for about 2 1/2 hours, and is set to the tune of corks popping, glasses tinkling, and silver flatware striking china plates. Fresh flowers and linen tablecloths adorn the individual food trays, which witness, in a splendid succession, canapes of shrimp, smoked salmon, and pate; seafood and avocado appetizer; poached turbot with baby vegetables, fillets of beef, lamb, and pork, or grilled chicken; chocolate mousse with crystallized violets; French and English cheeses, including St. Andre, Stilton, and Farmhouse Cheddar; and coffee with chocolate friendises, Meursault and Chateau Mouton, plus champagne and liqueurs.

The captain announces that not so long ago, passengers would have needed pressure suits and helmets to fly ten miles above the earth. Now they sit in shirt sleeves, sipping coffee, while the outside temperature is -60[degrees] C.

Approaching their destination, passengers notice an increase in noise when the nose of the plane goes down, 5 degrees at first, then the full 12 degrees for landing visibility. The auto pilot is disconnected at 1,000 feet, when human hands take over the landing with perfect precision.

For the passenger who wants to make a long trip very short and to travel in style and comfort, the Concorde is the only choice. Taking the SST to the edge of space, where the sky is a little darker and the curvature of the earth is soetimes visible, spoils the passenger, who knows that hence-forth all other forms of travel will pale by comparison.
COPYRIGHT 1992 Saturday Evening Post Society
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1992 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:the Concorde
Author:Bales, Miriam
Publication:Saturday Evening Post
Date:May 1, 1992
Previous Article:Fit for a queen.
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