“Out of the world of conventional aviation”; “to steal where no one has flown”. These are the main themes of this documentary by Véronique Lhorme to describe the brief epic – twenty-seven years of commercial exploitation – but oh so rich of the Franco-British supersonic Concorde. Made in 2016, the film is essentially a technical presentation of this aircraft like no other.

Thought out in the 1950s, designed in the 1960s, built in the 1970s, it remains a real concentrate of novelties. In its shape, the Concorde is unlike any other aircraft, with its revolutionary delta wing – hitherto reserved for fighter planes –, its tilting nose, ensuring better penetration in the air, its engines adapting to different flight phases. A specific alloy was made for its envelope, capable of withstanding both speed and heat, which could cause the cabin to expand by several centimeters.

A speed of 2,754 km/h

The central problem of the plane’s gravity was solved by a judicious and complex system of distributing, according to the different phases of flight, the 95 tonnes of kerosene under the entire cabin. A fuel that will also be used for cooling the aircraft.

The Concorde is also a test bed for new aeronautical applications, with the use of the first electric flight control or carbon brakes, which will later be found on Airbus planes. The supersonic is finally a catalog of records: the flight altitude, 20,700 meters, and, of course, the speed, Mach 2.23, or about 2,754 km/h.

Véronique Lhorme recalls how France and the United Kingdom decided to combine their know-how to build the first – and last to date – civilian supersonic aircraft. On November 22, 1962, the two countries pooled their skills, while each producing its own prototype, the 001 in Toulouse, the 002 in Bristol.

“It’s like putting a hundred passengers in a bullet,” engineer Yves Gourinat sums it up, emphasizing the magnitude of the challenge. On March 2, 1969, the Concorde 001 tore its 112 tons from the Toulouse-Blagnac runway for a first flight of twenty-nine minutes. The comment by André Turcat, the test pilot, to the journalists who came to interview him after this historic flight, was laconic to say the least: “Concorde flies, and it flies well. Pierre Grange, captain, thought it useful to clarify: “We don’t fly Concorde, we control it. »

Commercial operation began on January 21, 1976. The Gonesse crash (Val-d’Oise), which killed 113 people on July 25, 2000, after takeoff from Roissy, sounded the death knell for Concorde. Commercial operation will cease definitively in May 2003.