On February 11, 1982, I was duty Flight Manager 747 when I received a summons from the General Manager Flying's office.
We had just learned that our Paris flight had run off the taxiway but continued into the and gate. Since we did not know if there was damage, I was told to get to CDG so as to bring the next days return flight home since the Captain had to be removed. Since we had no one available in Europe, the only way to accomplish my getting over there was by SST.
TWA approached Air France operations but they would have no part of the operation. TWA then called BA and they gladly accepted me but i had to hurry to make the flight. I rushed to my Long Island house, got my uniform, a packed bag, and got back to JFK just as they were paging me and ready for departure. Our plan was to get to LHR in the evening, stay overnight at the local Airport hotel and then get the first flight in the morning to CDG.
I settled back in my mid cabin seat (very light load, about 25 pax.) and was approached by the cabin Steward. He told me the Captain would like for me to come to the cockpit before we started taxing. I was thrilled as I had never been supersonic. After introductions to the three crewmen, the Captain advised me that it was the F/O's leg but after lift off, I could take the left seat and fly this wonderful machine. More than I could ever dream of.
After take-off and gear retraction the Captain slid back and told me to enjoy myself. The F/O retracted the nose cone and then told me, "your airplane, just follow the Flight director" which I did. Climb and airspeed were restricted until we got well off the coast of Long Island. There were only three routes for the SST's, one each way and an alternate, so, we flew the programed normal route. We were cleared to 51,000feet, the highest I had ever been even in Air force fighters. After a short time, the Steward told me i could return to the cabin for the meal but I refused since I was more interested in flying than eating. He did bring back a nice little tray for me .
I continued hand flying the aircraft and it was so smooth and responsive, it felt more like a fighter than a commercial jet. The Captain came back from the cabin and told me how to hook up the autopilot. We then discussed the aircraft in general plus the need for immediate action on emergencies. The cockpit is quite small, like that of a Constellation and the engineer is the busiest man all through the flight as he moves fuel around to cool parts of the aircraft and maintain a correct center of gravity, plus keeping the passengers comfortable.
The navigation is done with pre programed slides into the auto system. Actually, very easy to follow and then to sit back and watch the scenery below fly by. We got further clearance to FL 59,000 and we cruised at Mach 2.07, faster than any bullet. The Captain quipped that if we had fired a rifle at JFK and landed in LHR, we would have to wait a spell for the bullet to arrive. As we neared the coast of the British Isles, the Captain told me that he had to help the F/O get set for arrival so I got in the jump seat. It got pretty busy especially about being far enough away from towns when they go subsonic. There is a special arrival corridor for the SST's and the F/O did a splendid job on arrival and landing. Block to block was 3.1 hours. The crew gave me a signed copy of the flight plan, the route we flew with alternates circled, and the Steward brought me a gift package from the passenger seat and I still have all of them What memories.
The next day, I got the early flight to CDG and brought Flt 803 with full load back to JFK. Thankfully, there was no damage to the aircraft except cleaning a lot of mud off the gears. When I finally got back to my home, I showed my wife all the papers and she said "why do you need that junk". I said, do you know how few people have done what I just did?
Note. After some research, the SST that I flew was G-BOAE and after it was grounded like the others, found it's way to Granely Adams Airport in Barbados housed in the Concorde Museum.
Captain Robert Dedman (Ret).