Remembering Concorde's Final Flight to Filton Airfield

On this day, 17 years ago, the Concorde 216 flew from Heathrow to its final destination, and its birthplace at Filton Airfield.

Thousands of supporters gathered on the streets to see the legendary supersonic passenger jet fly for the final time. The iconic airliner became the most recognisable name in aviation history, known for its sleek design and innovative technology.

Concorde travelled at twice the speed of sound, with a take-off speed of 220 knots (250mph) and a cruising speed of 1350mph. A typical London to New York crossing would take a little less than three and a half hours as opposed to the average eight hours for a subsonic flight.

Concorde flying over Clifton Suspension Bridge, 2003. CNN described the shot as “The greatest aviation photograph of all time” Image by Lewis Whyld.

In the late 1950s, Filton-based Bristol Aeroplane Company began working on designs for the first supersonic aircraft and the British prototype made its first flight on 9 April 1969. All ten British Concordes were built in the Brabazon Hangars, and the turbojet Rolls Royce engines were made across the road in Patchway.

On 24 October 2003, British Airways withdrew Concorde from its fleet, and just over a month later, the aircraft made it final flight. The plane left London's Heathrow Airport, flying out across the Bay of Biscay, soaring over the Clifton Suspension Bridge and then back home to Filton Airfield. Alan Haile, former airport manager at Filton Airfield, remembers the day fondly:

“I was heavily involved in the last flight. I went up to London and agreed the route, suggesting that the aircraft needed to fly across Clifton Suspension Bridge, and we ended up trying to get a route that covered that. I felt really involved, seeing tens of thousands of people all lining across the A38 (which they had to shut that day). You can still see it on YouTube now, with thousands of people all waving their flags, wanting to see Concorde for the last time. That’s one of my biggest memories here.”

Read more about Alan’s time at Filton Airfield

The Concorde Alpha Foxtrot now sits proudly at Aerospace Bristol, the last of the iconic supersonic passenger jets to be built and the last to fly. To find out more about Concorde, or other ground-breaking examples of aeronautical and space technology, visit Aerospace Bristol when it reopens on 2 December and book your tickets.

New Beginnings

The birthplace of the Brabazon aircraft and supersonic Concorde will now be repurposed into YTL Arena Complex, an exciting 365-day-a-year entertainment venue for the southwest. The Brabazon Hangars offer three individual but interlinked areas:

Central Hangar With a capacity of 17,080, the arena will be one of the largest in the UK. The multi-purpose auditorium will host everything from full capacity live music shows, sporting events, family entertainment and comedy shows.

East Hangar Festival Hall: a flat floor space for trade shows, exhibitions, conventions and other events.

West Hangar The Hub: a place to eat, work and play. With a visitor attraction, leisure, workspace and food and drink.

Miles Leonard, former Chair of Warner Records said: “To have an arena here, on this site, with the history that comes with these Hangars - it’s extraordinary. I had the privilege of walking through the Hangars and I think it’s going to be the most exciting arena, not just in the UK, but actually throughout Europe and possibly the world.”

Head to to read more about our exciting plans.

What are your favourite memories of the Concorde? Did you complete an apprenticeship in the Brabazon Hangars? Or maybe you took a three-and-a-half-hour flight to New York? Or were you there to witness the final flight? Whatever your Concorde story is, we want to hear it, so head to social media and tag @ytlarenabristol.

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