tendant waved the curtain aside and stood
back as if inviting me inside, which was more
or less impossible given the closet-like size
of the cockpit. I did take a step forward and
had to actually stoop to keep from hitting my
head on the ceiling.
plane (which was presumably on autopilot);
the first officer was on the right wearing an
oxygen mask (an FAA requirement anytime
an aircraft ascends over 35,000 feet or so with
passengers aboard); and a third man, the
flight engineer, sat directly in front of me fac-
ing a massive bank of dials and instruments
on my right, not unlike what I pictured the
inside of a space shuttle might look.
500 hours of supersonic flight. We swapped a
few stories. I recalled one dating back many
years. I was piloting a Swearingen Merlin II
twin engine turbo prop from Houston to Okla-
homa City. I was up around 18,000 feet, forty
miles southeast of Dallas-Fort Worth Interna-
tional Airport, when air traffic control came
on the radio and said that if I glanced out the
window I might catch the Concorde taking
off from DFW en route to Washington. Sure
enough, there it was, a white mass of shiny
steal barely visible streaking through the air.
engine wasn't scheduled to be auctioned until
day four, Saturday. I crawled out of bed well be-
fore the bidding began at 3:00 a.m. (9:00 a.m.
London time) and dialed the phone into the
DoveBid conference line. Immediately, I had
a speakerphone connection to a room some-
where in London where people, like me, were
unusually eager to spend scads on crates full
of Concorde merchandise.
the screen. I could see next to nothing of con-
sequence--a static world map in pale green
with tiny red dots that represented buyers.
At one point I counted ten buyers from the
U.S.--two in California, one in Utah, me in
Texas, and the remainder spread along the
east coast. I also noticed several bidders in
western Canada and a lone bidder in Japan.
mild British accent that wasn't entirely impos-
sible to understand, he intro'd the first item
and prodded bidders to make an offer.
items: an airspeed indicator (Lot 38), a Jaeger
Mach meter (Lot 46) and, of course, the Rolls
Royce/SNECMA Olympus jet engine (Lot
5620). I sat patiently and waited for my lot
number to be called. I listened. And waited.
I thumbed through the catalog. And waited.
I strained to keep up as a surprisingly quiet
roomful of Concorde parts buyers bid on a
dropnose selector switch, several ice detec-