Some 35 years later, Seattle finally has its plane.
About a thousand people gathered at Boeing Field to see one of seven retired British Airways Concorde supersonic jetliners arrive around 2:30 p.m. Wednesday, making its final landing before going on permanent display at Seattle's Museum of Flight.
After it came to a stop, pilots waved British and American flags from the cockpit windows.
The plane made its final journey in style. The Canadian government was kind enough to open up a path in its airspace to allow the Concorde to make one last jump to supersonic speed. That allowed the plane to set a speed record in making the flight from New York City to Seattle in 3 hours, 55 minutes and 12 seconds.
The Museum and British Airways announced last week that Seattle was going to be one of the three North American homes for the jets. One is going to the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum in New York City and one to Grantley Adams Airport in Bridgetown, Barbados. The other four were going to remain in Britain.
"We are delighted to be able to share Concorde with the public here in the Pacific Northwest and with our visitors from around the world," Ralph Bufano, the museum's president and CEO said last week during the announcement.
"This exciting airplane represents the pinnacle of technological achievement in commercial air transportation, and it is highly fitting that this historic type joins other airliners in our world-class collection," Bufano said.
The museum's collection includes prototypes of the Douglas DC-2, Boeing's 727, 737 and 747, and the only de Havilland Comet in North America.
Although some had wished at least some of the sleek aircraft could be kept flying, BA chief executive Rod Eddington said a study had shown that "the technical and financial challenges of keeping a Concorde airworthy are absolutely prohibitive."
Eddington said the destinations had been chosen for location, accessibility and "ability to properly exhibit and preserve the aircraft."
Flights of the droop-nosed aircraft have been halted by British Airways and Air France, the only airlines that flew the Concorde. The last trans-Atlantic flight landed Friday at London, carrying 100 celebrities from New York.
Air France grounded its five Concordes in May. One has gone to the new branch of the Smithsonian Institution's National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C. The others will be displayed in France and Germany.
In the late 1960s, the U.S. government supported Boeing Co. efforts to develop a larger competitor to the Concorde.
Because of environmental and cost concerns at a time of general recession in the aviation industry, the federal money stopped in 1971, worsening Boeing's worst slump in the company's history.
The Concorde turned out to be a financial flop, but its financing through European government subsidies set the stage for Airbus, which is poised to eclipse Boeing as the world's biggest commercial jet maker this year.
The airline also said it would hold an auction of Concorde memorabilia - including a nose cone and pilots' seats - on Dec. 1, with proceeds going to charity.
The Museum of Flight anticipates that Concorde will open there for tours by museum members only on Nov. 22. The general public should get to see it starting Nov. 28. Tours will be free with museum admission.
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