Friday 24 October 2003

Queen of the skies

"On the crest of a distant hill, she saw a crowd of people, their arms swinging against the sky…. As houses began to come more frequently, closer to the track, she saw people at the windows, on the perches, on distant roofs. She saw crowds blocking the roads at grade crossings. …. And she could not distinguish human figures, only their arms greeting the train like branches waving in the wind of its speed."

The John Galt Line - Atlas Shrugged: Ayn Rand.

And so it was today.

I knew that the designated viewing place at Ingliston would be busy so I drove along the back road to Kirkliston from which there is a view down towards the touchdown point of runway 24 with the snow covered Pentland Hills offering an attractive background for photography. Surely no one else would think of coming to this spot. I had arrived an hour early but two other cars were already parked. By 11 about twenty cars had arrived. At eleven-thirty both sides of this remote country road had cars and vans parked nose-to-tail. Suddenly, there she was – flying down the Firth from Stirling, over the Forth Bridges, and then turning right onto the final approach. A train stopped on the line from the North. Cameras clicked. Babies were held aloft. Small boys waved.

Two and a half hours later I was at the western end of the runway. Traffic had come to a complete stop. Every possible parking place was taken. She lifted off with a powerful roar, turned towards the South, and was gone.

Farewell Concorde.