This is a recollection of a 1980's event that I as TWA's Flight Manager-Training B-747 flight engineers witnessed with my boss Captain Ron Reynolds, TWA's Flight Manager-Training B-747 pilots.
Ron and I were TWA's basic two man flight crew utilized by the company to accept the new B-747 SP's from Boeing and/or any used 747 aircraft either from Boeing or another airline. While Ron and I were at London's Heathrow airport, a reserve F/O was summoned and we conducted the flight test of the first of two 747-200's TWA agreed to purchase from British Airways. Flight tests are very intensive and time consuming and just when we were about to ferry our new toy home to Kansas City's MCI, Ron's counterpart at BA asked if we will be able to complete the deal by the end of the month ... the end of BA's fiscal year a few days hence.
Since we'd be pressed for time after minimum time off at home, Ron suggested we would appreciate a little extra time at home if permitted to come back on the Concorde. 'No problem' was the answer.
Ron and I were as excited as two teenage boys at the Indy 500 on race day. JFK tower gives us "Cleared for take-off" and, we aboard Speedbird, are about to cross the pond in three hours.
As we taxied back to the terminal, I said to Ron 'there goes our best laid plans'. BA's captain asked me why I said that? Two reasons, I said, 'assuming there is a quick fix on the T/O warning system fault, the brakes will still be too hot'. The BA captain said 'come with me while a couple of tonnes of fuel will be added'. When he and I got to the main landing gear trucks he said, 'I want you to touch the brakes'. I did so reluctantly and found to my amazement they were cool. Concorde's brakes have built-in cooling fans.
A short time later we were invited to leave the cockpit because BA had blocked two passenger seats for us for lunch. The main cabin is configured for 100 first class passengers with two lush seats on each side of a narrow aisle, every seat is either a window or an aisle. The most notable thing about the cabin is the small fuselage diameter and the very small cabin windows. (Sable Island appeared a lot smaller than usual).
After a delightful lunch we resumed our coveted cockpit seats as the captain explained how the aircraft 'grows' nine inches in length due to heating caused by aerodynamic friction. The same rule of physics that causes sublimation of the tip of a rocket or a capsule heat shield at reentry. (I was now able to insert my hand into the gap that was too small during the pre-flight attempt.) The moveable pointed SST nose, is rigged down out of sight for take-off and landing as one anomaly, another is that the tail section fuel tank content is pumped forward at touchdown. Then Ron says, "OK Emil, we've had our fun, lets go get BA's other 747-200".
Emil Schoonejans (1949-1985) ... Worked in Tech Service as an A&E mechanic at EWR and LGA, in Flt Ops as a flight engineer at LGA and JFK, an international relief officer based at JFK and LAX and in 747 Flight Training at JFK.