On this day in 1976, the first Concorde jets carrying commercial passengers simultaneously take off from London's Heathrow Airport and Orly Airport outside Paris. The London flight was headed to Bahrain in the Persian Gulf, and the Paris flight was headed to Rio de Janeiro via Senegal. At their cruising speeds, the innovative Concordes flew 1,350 miles an hour, well over the sound barrier, and cut air travel time by more than half.
The flights were the successful culmination of a 12-year Anglo-French effort to build the world's first supersonic commercial airliner. Concorde was not great commercial success, however, and air service was eventually limited to transatlantic flights from London and Paris to New York. In July 2000, an Air France Concorde crashed 60 seconds after taking off from Paris, killing 109 people aboard and four on the ground. The accident was caused by a burst tyre that ruptured a fuel tank, creating a fire that led to engine failure. The fatal accident - the first in Concorde's history - signalled the decline of the aircraft. On 24 October 2003, Concorde made its last regular commercial flight.