10 years ago today Concorde flew for the final time. For many people including myself, that day 10 years was both poignant and disappointing...

Virgin Galactic

As well as losing a uniquely beautiful and capable aircraft, it seemed like human ingenuity and technological innovation and had taken a backward step.

We actually fought hard at Virgin to keep Concorde flying. I still have a wonderful desk model of the plane in full Virgin Atlantic livery but despite offering one million pounds for each aircraft (they were originally sold to BA by the British Government for a pound), sadly our friends at British Airways were having none of it and decommissioned the planes in a way that makes any chance of them flying again an unlikely prospect (they actually cut off the wings of the planes!)

So instead, a few months later in 2004, we turned our attention to an incredibly exciting project that I believe will result in a worthy successor to Concorde, and this time it will definitely have Virgin on the tail!

I was reminded of Concorde just a few months ago as our first fabulous Virgin Galactic spaceship powered upwards, beating the altitude record for a winged commercial vehicle set by Concorde during its own test flights, and also becoming just the second vehicle in that category, after Concorde, to break the sound barrier.

It was no accident that we turned our backs on traditional vertically launched rockets and chose a winged vehicle for our first spaceship. The experience that has already given us in designing, building and operating spaceplanes should mean that we can soon push long haul commercial aviation above the fragile atmosphere, dramatically reducing the environmental impact and journey times of current trans-continental flights.

Looking back 10 years I am still disappointed that we didn't manage to keep Concorde flying, but  hugely excited by the prospect of its successor not being just a slightly bigger or better version, but a true 21st century game changer.

I have no doubt that during my lifetime we will be able to fly you on a Virgin Galactic spaceplane from London to Sydney in perhaps 2.5 hours with minimal environmental impact. The awe inspiring views of the blue planet below and zero-gravity passenger fun will bring a whole new meaning to in-flight entertainment! I am trusting Virgin Galactic to come up with a design that looks as beautiful in space as Concorde looked in the sky. 

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