Today I visited G-BOAC at Manchester, I had asked the AVP if they would allow me some time to take some images for this website and they agreed.
I live approximately 35 mins from Manchester and the journey went well.
I was welcomed by John Hepple. We had a short discussion in reception and he led me through to the Concorde hall. The aircraft was closed for the morning because cleaning of the aircraft was planned, however John explained that the cleaners had been cancelled due to unforseen circumstances.
I never get bored of entering the Concorde hall at Manchester, G-BOAC looks absolutely fabulous and on entering the hall the first view is of the iconic nose. John explains that the last time G-BOAC was cleaned the cleaners used a sticky polish that has caused the airframe to accumulate dust which is very hard to remove, he continues, this time the cleaners will use damp cloths to remove the old polish then buff her up with dry cloths to get her shine back. The AVP were dissapointed that the cleaning had not gone ahead because she does look a little dirty, this is to be expected in the Concorde hall.
John opens the gate at the bottom of the stairs and invites me up to the aircraft, I reach the top of the stairs and the cabin door is closed, I am then asked to open the door, not done that before! During all our work at Duxford on AXDN the door is always open and on every other Concorde they are already open for display. I press the unlock button and twist the lock, the doors opens perfectly.
I take the opportunity to have a picture of G-BOAC's ID plate, not something you see often because the ID plate is covered by a cushioned pad to stop you hitting your head on the door frame. John holds the cushion down and the shot is taken.
Entering the aircraft is completely different to entering AXDN at Duxford, AXDN was a test aircraft and as such it does not have the luxury that G-BOAC has. All the working areas on G-BOAC are covered with fine carpets, leather and good quality facia panels which we expect of a Concorde.
The first stop is the cockpit.
I am quite used to being inside the cockpit of Concorde and it seems almost natural to duck my head to avoid the various obstacles, this cockpit is in excellent condition, we are well aware of the broken Co pilots windscreen that is the only thing to spoil the view of the aviation park and runway at Manchester.
Heritage Concorde has been trying to get the windscreen fixed for many years now, we have offered to do the work for free and currently have a live proposal for the work to be done which is supported by Brooklands Museum.
Each 360 photograph requires 10 photo's to be taken, I move the pilots seat forward and set up the tripod, John goes to the fwd cabin of the aircraft to prepare for the next 360 shot and to get out of the way of the photographs. I take the 10 shots of the cockpit.
Above you can see one of the shots taken of the Engineers panel
I move on to the Forward cabin, John has very kindly removed fans and air conditioner units that are used for the tours on BOAC. I set up the tripod and take another 10 shots, this is the first time I have used this camera for any 360 work, I need to buy the correct tripod mount for the camera but I hope the shots will work well.
The cabin is is very good condition, Manchester have removed the seatbelts from G-BOAC, mainly because a visitor to the aircraft cut one of the belts off with a knife some years ago, pure vandalism if you ask me but only to be expected I suppose.
I take the shots for my 360 and John shows me the original unit for the cabin display (Marilake display) This is the iconic display that Concorde passengers mostly remember, it showed the altitude and speed of Concorde when in flight. The unit is in excellent condition.
I did ask John to smile for this picture but I think I may have missed it! You can see the false displays behind on the bulkhead of the aircraft.
I have now completed the photo's of the Fwd cabin, they will make a nice addition to our website.
Fwd Cabin photo below.
I move on to the rear cabin, this is where weddings take place, the first row of seats have been removed to accommodate the ceremony, I was imagining brides walking down the aisle of Concorde with their groom waiting at the front, the seats are decorated with red bows, there is enough room for 56 people to sit comfortably in the most comfy seats in aviation history. The sumptuous leather finish looks lovely, I can not imagine a better setting for a wedding then the luxury of Concorde.
I am now up to speed with the camera and quickly get the shots required, John is hiding behind the bulkhead fwd and keeps saying "can I come out now?" I leave him there for a few minutes which makes me grin, me just being evil....
We move on down the aircraft to the rear galley, The Galley is in good condition, it is used by Brides on their wedding day to prepare for a walk down the aisle at this most unique wedding venue.
The Galley is missing many parts and includes only one trolley that was loaned to Manchester by Brooklands back in 2011. All the water boilers are missing, these "disappeared" while BOAC was in storage during decommissioning.
I quickly take another 360 degree photo, and ask John if we can take a look in the rear cargo hold, after some thought the answer is yes. Great!
We remove the one trolley and kneel down under the galley worktop to see the access panel, it is held in using four quick release clips, they are soon undone and the access panel is removed.
It's pitch black inside the cargo bay, John explains it is never used for anything and rarely opened.
I am not dressed to be crawling around in a dirty cargo hold however I don't care and enter the dark void....
I crawl into the darkness, fortunately John has a flash light and illuminates the way.
The cargo hold is in very good condition, the only thing I see wrong is the inner Cargo door panel has been removed and the door locking Mechanism is missing. This was loaned to Brooklands for them to copy, it was returned and was never fitted, soon after return it went missing. It can be copied and replaced at a future date.
It is too dark to take any 360 photo's in the cargo bay so I just take a few photo's, John is staying by the hatch entrance and takes a few snaps of his own..
We are running out of time now, so we crawl out of the cargo hold and re fit the hatch. the trolley is replaced and we put everything back as it was.
I quickly take a photo of the rear toilet, not usually open to the public so it is in pristine condition. We walk down the aisle of the aircraft and exit.
It has been a wonderful visit and I can't resist getting one more shot that most people have of the aircraft, the door exit looking back across the wing.
We exit the hanger and I take one last look back, I like to go and see BOAC every 6 months however I think I will attend the Air and Transport fair that will be held this weekend.
We go to main reception, have some more discussion and then I leave and go for a cup of tea in the cafe.
A very nice day and highly recommended for a visit..
More about this Concorde here ; http://www.heritageconcorde.com/#!manchester/cxsf