Monday, 12 July 2010

Dreaming the Impossible

I've just watched Concorde's Last Flight on Channel 4 and it's left me feeling sad, the world is a much poorer place without her. One of mankind's most beautiful creations, graceful, an inanimate object with a personality.
It's rare that something can be technologically brilliant yet also a work of art. Concorde was a combination of style, beauty, technology and awesome power that was truly a work of human creativity to rival any Picasso painting or Beethoven symphony.

Concorde like the Apollo Programme of the same era also represent a more optimistic time when designers, and engineers set themselves impossible challenges then reached them. The initial brief for Concord envisaged a plane twice as fast as anything in existence at a time when aircraft were still regularly falling apart as they attempted to brake the sound barrier. We knew virtually nothing about building, powering and controlling supersonic aircraft but we decided to try anyway.

Today our airliners are just big fat buses that lumber around the world, designers concentrate on pure functionality targets like quietness, and fuel efficiency. These are laudable goals and the aircraft of today are marvels of technology but they are not beautiful or inspiring in the way Concorde was.
Yes Concorde was obscenely loud and her afterburners consumed the contents of the average family car petrol tank in two seconds, but when she roared down the runway and into the air people not usually interested in aviation would stop stare and smile. Flying on Concorde was an event, flying today is a chore.
We need to dream the impossible again.

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