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Page 184
AUSTIN EXECUTIVE AIRPORT
A History of Austin's Newest General Aviation Airport
R
on
W. H
enRiksen
Chapter 11
(a sort of in-air billboard for French and Brit-
ish knowhow), rather than any real desire to
turn a profit.
In short, the Concorde was an amazing air-
plane and a financial disaster. The primary
culprit was fuel: the amount burned and its
rising cost. At full power the Concorde con-
sumed around 2,800 gallons per hour. During
reheat (what Americans call after burner), it
burned an outlandish 6,100 gallons per hour.
When fuel costs shot up in the early 2000s
both British Airlines and Air France decided
to throw in the towel.
Concorde entered service in 1976 and con-
tinued commercial flights for the next 27 years,
until November 26, 2003 when dwindling de-
mand and rising costs led to the airplane be-
ing retired. Most of the aircraft were sold or
donated to aviation museums throughout the
world and a warehouse of British Airways
spare parts, including three of its massive
Rolls Royce/SNECMA Olympus 593 Turbo
jet engines were sold at auction.
In mid-2009, Drew Coats, a friend and avi-
ation attorney, mentioned an article he had
just read. Apparently one remaining British
Airways Concorde aircraft was still searching
for a home to get it off the tarmac and out of
the rain. Half jokingly I suggested that Drew
send British Airways a letter and offer $1 mil-
lion dollars for the airplane on the condition
that the airline deliver it to an airport of my
choosing somewhere in Texas. My thinking
was that even if the Concorde were free, it
might well cost me a pot of gold to have it dis-
assembled, shipped via tanker, trucked from
the port overland to a super-sized airport han-
gar, and reassembled. Assuming the airline
accepted, and once my slightly faded, delta
wing arrived, I would likely house the air-
craft at the Austin Executive Airport where, I
imagined, it would draw aviation enthusiasts
from across the globe and (with a heavy dose
of good luck) somehow translate into greater
airport revenues. Drew drafted a very seri-
ous-sounding letter and sent it off to British
Airways, who promptly ignored it.
In truth, even had some British Airways
higher-up given my letter a good reading, I
suspected that the English people wouldn't
have stood for giving up what had become a
cherished national treasure.
Consequently, nothing came of my offer.
On Board Concorde
When I shuffled on board Concorde, the
first thing I noticed was how cramped it felt.
The aisle was narrow, the ceiling low, so low
in fact I felt an irrational need to hunch. The
cabin was notoriously thin, with a single aisle
and two slender seats on each side. It held
100 passengers in two identical cabins, 40 in
the front cabin and 60 in back. No first class.
The furnishings were not nearly as plush
as you'd expect after shelling out $9,000 or so
for a round-trip flight. The seats were feath-
erweight, no padding; the windows tiny (the
size of grapefruits) with wide concave frames
that gave the illusion of somewhat larger
openings.
Even before we got seated, an aloof flight
attendant distributed ritzy little bags to each