Monday, 25 January 2016

flight deck

Forty years ago this week, the maiden voyages of the sleek, supersonic jet liner, Concorde a joint Franco-British collaboration, took place, continuing for twenty-seven years before the fleet was retired. The combination of low fuel prices and industries still slowly being decommissioned as Europe transitioned into its Cold War identity made the time just right for this sort of venture—which sounds like fun and familiar times, four decades on.
The decision to ground the planes and put them on almost taxidermical display so one can wonder and be nostalgic over having never been whisked across the ocean at twice the speed of sound always strikes me as an affront to progress—no matter how elite and exclusive that the manifest tended to be, and was driven in part to the 9/11 Terror Attacks that drained all the romance out of jet-setting and also to the development of higher capacity freighters to shuttle more and more passengers to their destinations, teethed on high-overhead and unchecked competition. Maybe it’s even more retrograde to try to recapture past accomplish, though the technical achievement (at least for something that is commercially available) was never repeated, and though although new break-through in æro-space but it would behove one to remember that cruise-goers (or soldiers’ of fortune) are not the heroes that astronauts are, and while space-tourism might be driven by individual investment and could very well lead to innovations in efficiency, that enterprise—purely a commercial venture—also strikes me as giving up the ghost. Like for Concorde, there’s no separate flag-ship and we’re all just classed in different ways—through cordons and charters that might make the flying experience marginally less traumatic for a few but generally, democratically bad all around. What do you think? Can you believe it’s been forty years since the inaugural flight?