A decade has passed, but spirit of Concorde remains

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Ten years ago, give or take a month, I was on the fifth floor of a building, nose pressed against a window, watching Concorde glide past.

It was the final flight of the Concordes, and it was flying from London to Filton Airport in Bristol and passed right by the window of my students’ union, where I was working that day.

There was no need for crew as there were no passengers on board – this was a bird that would fly no more, and would be seen on the airfield for months afterwards, abandoned, unprotected from the elements, left where planes would often go to die.

A month earlier, on October 24, 2003, Concorde made her final commercial flight from New York, the last plane to fly the great and the good – and Jeremy Clarkson – at supersonic speeds across the Atlantic to Heathrow.

I watched her coming in to land once as I was heading to Wembley for a concert, and the excitement at seeing such an iconic plane was huge.

It seemed to me 10 years ago that we, as a nation, were losing something that we should have been building on.

She was a 1950s-designed plane built in the 1960s, and in the 50 years since we’ve not had a commercial aircraft to rival her.

Sure, there was nothing remotely environmentally-friendly about flying at such speeds, but you’d have thought in the interim our scientists would have found a way to make Concorde greener.

It felt like when Concorde was retired technology took a step backwards when, it should have taken three steps forwards.

In the 10 years since that final flight we’ve had broadband, smartphones, tablets, sat nav, 3D printers, self-stirring mugs and Jeremy Clarkson is still on TV.

The only person who has ever wanted to step into the breach, and who has the wherewithal to do so, is Sir Richard Branson.

Virgin Galactic might once again mean people can travel across the Atlantic in 3.5 hours. We have a lot of technology now which can take the need for meeting people face-to-face out of the equation when doing business, but there’ll always be the need for a personal handshake, even in the future, so please Mr Branson, make it so.