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Farewell, Concorde永别了,协和式飞机

http://www.sina.com.cn 2004/05/13 10:57  英语沙龙

  The Concorde bowed out with a spectacular triple landing finale, closing an era of supersonic passenger travel and leaving the skies to the slower, cheaper jets that proved to be the future of air travel.

  Three supersonic planes glided into Heathrow Airport within minutes of one another, a majestic sendoff for an aircraft that was a technological marve
l but an expensive commercial dud.

  “Concorde was born from dreams, built with vision, and operated with pride,”said Capt. Michael Bannister, who was British Airways' chief Concorde pilot and flew the last transAtlantic trip. But not everyone loved the slim, elegant jet.

  Over the years, many criticized its enormous roar, heavy fuel use and the pollutants it emitted. In New York, U.S. Rep. Anthony Weiner hosted a champagne toast to celebrate Concorde's demise.

  But tens of thousands of fans lined the road outside Heathrow to get a final look at the plane that epitomized jet set glamour. Julia Zuk, 50, who lives near Heathrow, said she enjoyed her daily glimpses of the elegant jet and didn't mind the noise.“It's like wearing stilettos,”she said.“They hurt your feet, but you know they look a lot sexier than ordinary shoes.”

  The three jets landed at Heathrow to cheers and applause. The travelers who disembarked onto a red carpet took pictures of the plane and each other.“It was very moving, very sad in a way,”one passenger said. It was a bittersweet end to nearly 28 years of commercial supersonic travel.

  The Concorde, conceived and built by the British and French governments,began commercial service in January 1976. It was hailed as a technological marvel but its economics were shaky and it never made back the billions of tax dollars invested in it.

  Airlines had little interest in such expensive, fuel guzzling jets. The Concorde's limited range, and rules that forbade it from setting off sonic booms over land meant it mostly stuck to its transAtlantic back and forth.

  For years it was the favorite form of Europe to America travel for celebrities and high powered executives. Cruising speeds of 1,350 mph meant westbound travelers got to New York more than an hour and a half before they left Europe.

  The beginning of the end came when an Air France Concorde crashed after takeoff from Paris on July 25, 2000, killing 113 people and forcing both airlines to ground their supersonic jets for over a year. Overhauled Concordes returned to service two months after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, in the middle of one of aviation's worst slumps and a miserable global economy.

  British Airways plans to announce where its fleet of seven Concordes will be kept. It has said most will likely go to museums, but it is looking into the possibility of keeping one in flying shape for occasional special events.













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