Coffee at Mach 2

‘How do you like your coffee, Captain, – cream and sugar?’

We are at Thirsty West, the half-way point between the European and North American continents, and the stewardess in charge of the forward galley is looking after her aircrew during a pause in serving the passengers meals.

Mach 2. On autopilot, 11 miles high, moving at 23 miles a minute. Nearly twice as high as Mount Everest, faster than a rifle bullet leaving its barrel. The windows are hot to the touch, from the friction of the passing air. Despite the speed, we can talk without raising our voices.

‘Milk, please, and no sugar.’

from Flying Concorde by Brian Calvert

I have few regrets. One is turning down the chance to fly on Concorde.

The accompanying image is one of very few taken in supersonic flight.

The Royal Air Force Tornado that took it was able to take the picture flying at Mach 2 alongside, but only Concorde could maintain 1,350 miles per hour. Taking her passengers direct from London to New York in under three hours. Effortlessly.

Above, darkness of near space can be clearly seen, below, the curvature of the Earth due to flying so high. 

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