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The Concorde lands at Blue Grass Airport, 1989

Posted on May 4, 2015 | in Uncategorized | by

They watched from rooftops and shopping mall parking lots, lined Lexington roadsides and packed Blue Grass Airport. A crowd estimated at 3,500 to 5,000 gathered in and around the airport on Aug. 9, 1989, to watch the first Lexington landing of the world’s ­fastest airliner, the Concorde SST.

Travel Agents International, a Lexington agency, arranged the promotional flight from New York to Lexington. The 100-seat plane carried 24 people, 14 of whom were from Lexington. The 10-person crew served peanuts, champagne and wet towels during the 85-minute flight.

The supersonic jet reached speeds in excess of 1,300 mph on trans-Atlantic flights. It was so fast that it expanded and became longer during supersonic flights. The windows were only about 6 inches by 8 inches — so they could withstand the intense heat and pressure at the Concorde’s top speed and altitude. At the time, the plane was not permitted to fly at supersonic speeds over the United States because of the thunderous boom that results.

The Concorde began service in 1976 and retired in 2003 because of low passenger ­numbers after a July 2000 crash in France that killed all 109 on board and four people on the ground.

The Concorde touched down at Blue Grass Airport on Aug. 9, 1989. This Concorde was the last of only 20 ever built. The airliner was much narrower than most other jets: 91/2 feet across, with two gray bucket seats on each side of the aisle. Passengers could not easily see the graceful finlike wings from the small windows.

The Concorde touched down at Blue Grass Airport on Aug. 9, 1989. This Concorde was the last of only 20 ever built. The airliner was much narrower than most other jets: 91/2 feet across, with two gray bucket seats on each side of the aisle. Passengers could not easily see the graceful finlike wings from the small windows. Photo by Frank Anderson | staff

Vehicles parked and double-parked along Versailles Road to get a glimpse of the Concorde. “There he is,” somebody cried as the plane came into view. Heads turned in unison as it swung around the city at 3,000 feet. As it arced, the Concorde was barely recognizable for a while. Then it made a 180-degree turn and came in low. It zoomed over Versailles Road to the applause of the crowd.

Vehicles parked and double-parked along Versailles Road to get a glimpse of the Concorde. “There he is,” somebody cried as the plane came into view. Heads turned in unison as it swung around the city at 3,000 feet. As it arced, the Concorde was barely recognizable for a while. Then it made a 180-degree turn and came in low. It zoomed over Versailles Road to the applause of the crowd. Photo by David Perry | staff

All passengers aboard the flight were invited into the cockpit, including Joan Owens of Lexington.

All passengers aboard the flight were invited into the cockpit, including Joan Owens of Lexington. Photo by Charles Bertram | staff

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