If you thought that you'd missed the chance to take the controls of Concorde for a supersonic flight, think again. Thanks to the Brooklands Museum near Weybridge in Surrey, the original full flight simulator used to train British Airways pilots has been restored and is being made available for private hire.
The simulator forms part of the museum's "Concorde Experience" based around the fully restored first UK production Concorde G-BBDG. "Visitors to Delta Golf will be able to experience a short 'flight' on the simulator for free," says museum director Allan Winn. "Outside museum hours it will be available for private hire with a Concorde captain on hand to provide tuition on how to fly the aircraft."
The simulator had its official opening on 9 April to coincide with the 40th anniversary of the maiden flight of the first British Concorde G-BSST. Doing the honours at the event was record-breaking driver Richard Noble MBE in the company of British Airways' last Concorde chief pilot Capt Mike Bannister.
© Max Kingsley-Jones/Flight International
The inauguration marked the culmination of a five-year renovation following the salvaging of the simulator from the Airbus plant at Filton, near Bristol after it was decommissioned when the supersonic transport retired in October 2003.
Funding for the renovation has come from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council with the effort being led by a team from University of Surrey ably assisted by specialists XPI Simulation and museum volunteers.
Although lacking its original motion system, the simulator's fully operational visual display and multitude of working instruments ensure a realistic flying experience.
A number of former Concorde pilots have helped to refine the simulator's handling and behaviour, says Bannister: "It's just amazing to see what has been done with modern computing programs, you really get that sensation of what it used to be like to fly the aircraft."
Bannister says that in its heyday the simulator was "a very complicated, state of the art piece of equipment with a computer room the size of a house" whereas now with modern technology it is driven by "a computer the size of a small brief case".
He was recently reunited on the simulator with Capt Les Brodie and senior engineering officer Warren Hazelby - the flightcrew who operated the very last Concorde flight on 26 November 2003 between Heathrow and Filton - to do some filming for the museum. "Visitors to the simulator at Brooklands will be able see how the aircraft was operated during its time at British Airways, with a take-off from New York, supersonic acceleration, Mach 2 flight and an approach and landing at Heathrow," he says.
Brooklands Concorde simulator is due to be available for public visits during May. An on-going improvement programme should see more capability and realism introduced over the next year or so. If you would like to find out more about the project or donate to the further renovation, please visit www.brooklandsmuseum.com or www.concordeproject.com.