The story behind the only photo ever taken of Concorde flying at Mach 2

  • Concorde was only captured flying at Mach 2 once
  • The photograph required meticulous preparation, multiple crew members, and another aircraft to pull off
  • The result is awe-inspiring, showcasing two supersonic planes rendezvousing over the Atlantic Ocean

Published on Jul 04, 2024 at 2:28 PM (UTC+4)
by Andie Reeves

Last updated on Jul 04, 2024 at 5:48 PM (UTC+4)
Edited by Tom Wood

There’s only one photograph of Concorde flying at Mach 2, and it’s got an incredible story behind it.

It’s no small feat to capture a plane traveling at twice the speed of sound.

The process required a lot of meticulous planning, another aircraft, and a specially trained photographer.

The result was and remains remarkable, capturing Concorde in all her glory soaring over the Atlantic.

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There are plenty of awe-inspiring images of the iconic supersonic jet through the ages.

One person captured once-in-a-lifetime footage of it flying overhead as it lands.

And there’s also the rare footage of Concorde landing on the small island of Sint Maarten, carrying the French president.

We are even able to see how surprisingly calm it was in the cockpit thanks to vintage photographs.

But only one person was able to capture the aircraft in all its Mach 2 glory.

Orchestrating a supersonic snapshot

This legendary photograph was captured by Adrian Meredith, an experienced aviation photographer, on 21 April 1985.

Plenty of careful preparation, qualified crew members, and an additional aircraft were required to pull it off.

A Royal Air Force (RAF) Tornado fighter jet was selected for the job, able to match the supersonic speeds of Concorde.

To get it Mach 2-ready, the Tornado had to be stripped of all non-essential equipment, allowing it to maintain high speeds for as long as possible.

RAF pilot Bob Tuxford piloted the Tornado with Meredith on board, ready to capture the moment from the aircraft’s rear cockpit.

As you can imagine, this was no easy feat, and several unsuccessful attempts were made.

Eventually, somewhere over the Atlantic Ocean, Concorde dropped to Mach 1.5 to give the Tornado a chance to catch up.

Meredith got the shot, and the Tornado headed back while Concorde sailed onwards to New York’s JFK Airport.

The iconic result of Concorde flying at Mach 2

The resulting photograph encapsulates all that makes this aircraft so special, and why it continues to capture our imaginations today.

The delta-winged plane is captured in flight, its famous drooping nose upright, with a sheet of clouds and the Atlantic Ocean below.

Not only does this iconic photo showcase one of the greatest feats of aviation history but it also represents the skill and precision required by those involved in taking the photo.

“The real marvel of this aircraft was that there are a hundred people sipping champagne and eating caviar in there, sat in comfy leather seats and with great big smiles on their faces, all travelling at the speed of a rifle bullet,” one commenter said.

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Andie Reeves

Andie is a content writer from South Africa with a background in broadcasting and journalism. Starting her career in the glossy pages of Cosmopolitan and Marie Claire, Andie has a broad portfolio, covering everything from sustainability solutions to celebrity car collections. When not at her laptop Andie can be found sewing, recording her podcast, taking board games too seriously or road-tripping in her bright green Kia.