FLYING CONCORDE by Brian Calvert


Email this review


How much do you want to know about the Concorde? This book is an overload of information not designed for the casually interested--though Calvert, one of the supersonic plane's first pilots, gamely attempts to explain the technical terms and provides a cram course in aerodynamics along the way. The view is strictly behind-the-scenes; little mention is made of what the ride is like for a ticket-holding passenger, and none of the 30-odd photographs even shows the passenger cabin. Part 1, ""The Airliner,"" gives most of the mechanical lowdown. Here, Calvert's efforts to infuse drama into the narrative are thwarted by the high-tech, high-tested ease of the plane's operation; as a result the account reads like an owner's manual, with paragraphs and diagrams devoted to such topics as wing-sweep, elevons, and aspect ratios. Part 2, ""The Story,"" details the engineering and bureaucratic struggle to put the plane into the air. The chief tension centers around Kennedy Airport's reluctance to let the Concorde land because of what Calvert feels are misapprehensions about its noise level. The airport relents, the plane lands. True, there are some fun facts along the way: the three crew members each order different dinners to guard against food poisoning; because of the heat generated by high speeds, the plane's fuselage grows several inches in length between take-off and Mach 2. But overall the book is heavily weighted toward no-nonsense, practical information. And while there is no question that the author knows his stuff, the outcome is measured and somewhat plodding.

Pub Date: March 15th, 1982
Publisher: St. Martin's