Concorde – Queen of the Skies
by Philip E. West
Concorde looking her best as she heads off into a warm sunset over the Atlantic Ocean.
With the afterburners having just been switched on Concorde will quickly gain speed and height until finally reaching a maximum cruising height of 60,000 feet,
where, on a clear day, passengers could see the curvature of the earth.
All the prints are signed by Barbera Harmer the world’s first and only female Concorde pilot.
Please see below for information on Barbera Harmer.
Primary Edition 400 Prints
Concorde – Queen of the Skies
Overall print size approx. 28” x 16” / 711mm x 407mm
Special offer £125.00
On 25th March 1993, at 39 years of age BARBARA HARMER flew into the history books when she became the first and only female Concorde pilot.
That in itself is remarkable considering that Barbara started her working life as a hairdresser in her hometown of Bognor Regis
So what made Barbara a “cut above the rest”? Traditionally male pilots have dominated the skies. In the early days, flying was hazardous and pioneers of aviation needed courage and determination, qualities that were shown by women who, although in their minority, followed men into the air.
Their presence often resented, their successes made them instant heroines and their failures used to prove that women were physically and psychologically unfit to fly.
With these restrictions, throughout the years, women have had to endure the same hardships, only more, to earn the same recognition and approval.
Following her successful stint as a hairdresser Barbara trained as an Air Traffic Controller based at Gatwick Airport.
Catching the “flying bug” she quickly gained her PPL (Private Pilot’s License). Barbara then became a flying instructor for her local Goodwood Flying School, progressing to an aerobatics instructor. Always headstrong and never keen to sit still, Barbara undertook the massive task of training to be a commercial airline pilot.
After a gruelling training schedule she qualified with “flying colours” and joined GENAIR, a UK based commuter airline.BARBARA HARMER She quickly transferred to BRITISH CALEDONIAN in March 1984 where she flew the BAC-11 and DC10’s until the airline merged with BRITISH AIRWAYS IN 1987.
This was when she realised that her ultimate ambition, to fly Concorde, could become a reality.
3000 pilots are employed by BA and 60 are women,
so Barbara knew that achieving her goal would definitely not be easy, even more so because she is a woman and no other woman had flown the Concorde before.
Only a few BA pilots are hand picked each year to be trained in a rigorous 6-month training schedule, so Barbara was thrilled but at the same time extremely nervous,
when she was finally chosen in 1992 to undergo this incredibly expensive and intensive course.
When Barbara flew her first Concorde flight to JFK Airport, New York in 1993 there was no looking back.
She became an instant international celebrity and was featured on news bulletins and in newspapers around the world. Barbara,
even now 10 years on, continues to be featured in numerous TV documentaries, magazine features and is constantly making personal appearances at media sponsored events.
More importantly Barbara has become an icon for
both aspiring women and men, making her a popular favourite for motivational and inspirational presentations, role model talks and after dinner speaking.
She talks about her life, achievements and about the incredible aircraft itself.
Now that Concorde is sadly reaching the end of its commercial life there is a greater interest in its story of which Barbara plays a huge part.
Barbara’s skills are not limited to the air. She is also a fully qualified RYA Commercial Offshore Yacht Master and often commands the “Concorde Crew” in various high profile international yachting events. However, it is in the air at 60,000 feet and at 1,350mph that she feels most at home.
She admits that she is lucky and extremely privileged as there are obviously very few Concorde Crews. After all not everyone gets to impress the “rich and famous” to the point of spontaneous applause.
Actor Tom Cruise, himself a qualified pilot, didn’t restrain his appreciation as he sat with Barbara on the flight deck and watched her “grease” Concorde onto the ground at JFK.
One of the most memorable flights was when she flew the Manchester United football team to their epic “Champion’s League Final” in Barcelona.
“I was thrilled and honoured to be asked to fly the team on their historic journey to Barcelona and felt quite emotional as I taxied the Concorde out to the runway, with British flags flying and thousands of people wishing the team luck on the way”.