A few months ago I made a list of things I’ve done that I never thought I would do. No, I haven’t robbed a bank or sailed solo around the world. Some of them were things I never wanted to do, however, like choosing the flowers for my boyfriend’s coffin. Others were adventures that never crossed my mind as a child in Tennessee, like going to Australia and New Zealand. My dreams were pretty small, really. One big adventure (among many) that I was pushed into by that same boyfriend was flying in a Concorde.
I had gotten sick when traveling in Guatemala and Jamaica on business, and was ill for several weeks after I got home. Somehow this translated into panic and a fear of flying, which I’d never suffered from before. Ron was panic-stricken at the thought that I didn’t want to travel. Travel was life’s blood to him. He was happiest when setting off to somewhere he hadn’t been before, preferably with a luxury hotel in an exotic setting at the other end, or at least Paris, his favorite city. He often traveled without me on business, but was insistent that I come along as often as time permitted and I could afford it.
He had a trip coming up to France to visit a client and discovered that Air France was running a special: buy a round trip business class ticket, and the New York-to-Paris leg was on the Concorde. “You have to do this,” he said. “We may never get this chance again. And the client will pay!” I was scared, but I agreed.
The plane was actually kind of claustrophobic. It was narrow and the ceiling was low. I took deep breaths and drank some wine. Then the plane took off, and I felt–nothing. You literally could not feel the acceleration. After that, it was like being in a very luxurious subway car, only much smoother. Then after a while I noticed the speed indicator; we were approaching Mach 2. And I looked out the window. I could see the curve of the Earth. Wow!
I still felt a bit scared and shaky, but after that flight I didn’t panic again. It really was magical. The Concorde made absolutely no economic sense for the airlines, and I understand why the supersonic plane no longer flies. But it’s a little bit of magic that’s gone from the world.