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A supersonic life: The story of Concorde Alpha Foxtrot

As it moves into its new home in an aviation museum in Bristol, England, take a look back at the amazing life of the last Concorde to be built.

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Kent German
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The last of the 20 Concorde aircraft to be built, Alpha Foxtrot moved into its new home today when it was towed across Bristol Filton Airport in southwest England. Now parked in a purpose-built hanger, it will be part of a new aviation museum, scheduled to open this summer.

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2 of 18 Airbus

Born in Bristol

First conceived more than 50 years ago, the Concorde was meant to bring supersonic flight to mass passenger air travel. Engineers based at Filton, like these pictured here in 1967, worked with their counterparts in France to design the revolutionary aircraft.

3 of 18 Chris Parker/CNET

A Concorde gets a new home

Concorde Alpha Foxtrot was the last of her kind to fly. She will now be on display at a new aviation museum at Bristol Filton Airport in southwest England.

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4 of 18 Airbus

Testing the wing

As different designs were considered, they were subjected to hydromatic testing in a wind tunnel at Filton. This photo is from 1965.

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5 of 18 Airbus

Building the bird

All seven of the Concorde aircraft that flew passengers for British Airways were built in Bristol. (The Air France planes were built in Toulouse, France.) Here you can see four Concordes under final assembly at Filton in 1974.

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6 of 18 Unknown (UN)

First flight

Alpha Foxtrot made its first flight from from Filton on April 20, 1979.

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In service

After entering service with British Airways, the aircraft carried the rich, famous and powerful, plus a lucky few who could stretch to the four-figure fare. Average flying time between London and New York was three and a half hours.

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8 of 18 Airbus

So fast it expanded in flight

Because the Concorde flew so fast -- Mach 2.02 or about 1,354 mph (2,179 kph) -- friction from the surrounding air would heat the fuselage causing it to expand by as much as 30 cm or almost a foot. This captain's hat, now wedged in the corner of Alpha Foxtrot's cockpit, would be able to fit comfortably into a large gap between the instrument panel and the wall that would appear during supersonic flight.

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Great days

In this photo, Alpha Foxtrot is parked with two of its sister aircraft during their glory days.

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Amazing from any angle

Even on the ground, the Concorde was a sight to behold.

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Last flight

On November 26, 2003, after it and the rest of the Concorde flight were retired from service, Alpha Foxtrot made its last flight from London's Heathrow Airport to Filton. Here she is flying over Bristol's famous Clifton Suspension Bridge just before landing.

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After arrival

The trip to Bristol was the last time a Concorde was airborne. After Alpha Foxtrot landed, the flight crew waved the British flag from the cockpit.

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13 of 18 Martin Chainey

Keeping her in shape

Over the last 13 years, Airbus employees continually carried out £3 million of maintenance work to preserve Alpha Foxtrot.

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14 of 18 Martin Chainey

Waiting for a new life

Alpha Foxtrot was parked on the runway at Filton where it was occasionally opened to the public.

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15 of 18 Neil Phillips/Airbus

On the move again

During the tow across the airport, Airbus and British Airways crews directed the tug.

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16 of 18 Neil Phillips/Airbus

Coming home

A wall had to be removed in the new hanger to fit the Concorde, leaving less than a meter (about 3 feet) of space on each side.

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17 of 18 Aerospace Bristol

Breaking ground

When Aerospace Bristol first broke ground for the Concorde hanger, employees formed the aircraft's distinctive outline on the ground.

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18 of 18 Aerospace Bristol

A custom built home

The hanger's wedge shape was designed just for Alpha Foxtrot.

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