Air France logo and on the inside was a comb,
a toothbrush, a small can of shaving cream
for me and a small bottle of perfume presum-
ably for my wife.
gine's low rumbling noise. We taxied out to
runway 22L, when the captain came on the in-
tercom and announced in a cinematic French
accent that he would be activating "reheat"
on takeoff, a system which injected fuel di-
rectly into the exhaust mechanism and con-
sequently boosted thrust on takeoff by about
20 percent. What the captain was saying was,
"Get ready for a ride."
in my chest as we zoomed out over Queens,
New York, and moments later skirted the
western end of the Rockaway peninsula far
below. We banked and buzzed along at a lei-
surely 650 miles per hour out over the choppy
gray Atlantic Ocean for some time when the
captain once again announced he was activat-
ing reheat in order to accelerate through the
speed of sound. The bulkhead in front of me
held a large speed indicator and I saw that
we were traveling at Mach .93. When the cap-
tain activated reheat I didn't notice a thing,
not a speck of acceleration or any change in
engine noise. Nonetheless, I saw the Mach
meter continue to climb--.95, .97, 1.01--until
we reached Mach 1.3 and this time I heard a
slight change in the hum of the engine, most
likely the captain switching off the fuel-guz-
zling reheat system.
got lighter and as it got lighter it could either
go faster or go up. We didn't want to go any
faster than Mach 2.02, our maximum cruise
speed (about 1,334 miles per hour), so we
soared upward into the ever-thinning air until
we reached about 60,000 feet.
I was a pilot and asked in my most affable
voice, well, if there were any chance I might
see the cockpit, maybe have a word with the
The woman was attractive and off-putting
flatteringly behind her ears, her light gray
dress pressed with fresh creases, and a blaz-
ing red bow for a belt that hit me, seated as I
was, at about eye level.
if it were the first she'd ever heard of such a
thing (which couldn't possibly be true) and
said, "If you like, I will speak with the captain."
She left me and returned a few minutes
come on up.
cockpit of the Concorde didn't have a solid