The iconic Concorde supersonic jetliner was lifted from its long-time home at the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum this morning. The Concorde was moved by a massive floating crane barge and placed on another barge at around 11am to travel to the Brooklyn Navy Yard.
The Concorde has been a fixture at the Intrepid Museum on Manhattan’s West Side since 2003. The jet will now undergo a three-month restoration at the Navy Yard’s GMD Shipyard. The vintage aircraft will have its paint completely stripped down to bare metal before being recoated in the classic blue and white livery it wore when operating supersonic transatlantic service with British Airways.
The last time Concorde was moved was when the pier was being rebuilt in 2006. That time, Concorde was taken to a recreation center at Floyd Bennett Field in Brooklyn. While there, the 203-foot-long plane had its nose knocked off by a moving truck. The distinctive nose, which always look a bit out of shape when not in flight, was successfully restored after that accident.
“Last time, we had to tow it all the way across from the seaplane ramp on the water to Floyd Bennett Field. It’s about a mile and a half. We had to go real slow. because Concorde’s struts are all out of service, so this thing has no shock absorbers. So we had to move along at about a mile an hour with a tow truck,” recalled Eric Boehm, the curator of aviation and aircraft restoration at the Intrepid. “We parked it and then put a fence around it. And I used to go out there once every other week just to make sure nothing was wrong.”
He arrived one morning to find the nose cone broken off. “The fence was only about 10 foot, and we went all the way around the airplane. At some point, they moved it under the nose, the precious nose, so that they could get car traffic to pass through there. But in the middle of the night, they had an event, They loaded up a truck and the driver took a shortcut. He was told not to go that way, but he saw his shortcut in the dark in a truck, and he just wiped the nose right out.”
All ended well when the broken fiberglass was sent off to a contractor for repair, Thomarios in Ohio. The specialty company is doing the restoration work again this time — and their pedigree includes repainting Saturn rockets and Goodyear blimps. Boehm is hoping for no surprises on his visits to Brooklyn this time: “It’s going for strict maintenance, so there’s going to be no public near it. And one of the first things that happens, it’ll be completely tented. Covered with a structure.”
Museum officials said the Concorde’s departure marks the start of pier renovations that will add over 4,000 square feet of parkland to Pier 86, which is part of Hudson River Park and where USS Intrepid is docked.
The Concorde was a supersonic passenger jet that entered service with British Airways and Air France in 1976. It could fly at twice the speed of sound and traverse the Atlantic in under three hours, less than half the time of conventional jets. Protests over sonic booms limited its routes, and it was retired in 2003 after a fatal crash in 2000. This particular Concorde, on loan from British Airways, first flew in 1976 as part of the pioneering Anglo-French aviation project.
The Concorde is expected to return to Intrepid Museum in Spring 2024, once restoration and pier upgrades are completed. The fastest Atlantic crossing by any Concorde occurred on February 7, 1996 and took only two hours, 52 minutes, and 59 seconds. We will report back on how long it takes the plane to get to Brooklyn from Hell’s Kitchen…