Concorde touches down at LAX on an overcast day on Wednesday, October 23, 1974, the first time the supersonic transport (SST) visits Southern California. The visit is part of a promotional tour to airports around the world.
The UFO-like Theme Building (1961) at Los Angeles International Airport, designed by Pereira & Luckman, mirrored Los Angeles' dream to become the city of tomorrow and indeed, Concorde and the Theme Building are a match made in heaven!
Thousands of spectators came by to view the landing at 3:49 PM that day, a few minutes later than planned. Concorde flew in from Anchorage, Alaska, where it had departed at 1:16 PM.
Concorde rolling out after the first ever landing at LAX with contemporary airliners being visible in the background.
After landing, Concorde parked at the Satellite Building #2, which was used for international flights. The aircraft, with the French registration F-WTSA, was painted in a hybrid Air France/British Airways livery.
Many people showed up to view the aircraft during a static display that evening and the next day. Concorde officials estimated that 100,000 people from throughout Southern California came to view the aircraft, creating massive traffic jams at the airport.
Concorde left on Friday, October 25, at 9:00 AM and headed to Acapulco, Mexico, the next destination on the promotional tour.
The supersonic jet would not become an operational part of Air France and British Airways flights until Jan. 21, 1976, when British Airways began using it for London-Bahrain and Air France on the Paris-Rio de Janeiro routes. At first, the plane was not allowed to land in the US because of noise and air pollution concerns.
Dulles International Airport in Washington, D.C., was granted permission by the US Department of Transportation for supersonic flights in May 1976. After first banning the plane, Kennedy International Airport in New York City also began allowing it in November 1977.
However, despite years of battling, Concorde never would be approved to operate out of LAX. Its noise levels, especially on takeoff, were deemed too loud to meet the airport’s noise standards and the airport beat back several attempts to allow SST aircraft to use its facilities.
Read about how airports prepared for what seemed to be the inevitable coming of the SST here. Read more about Concorde's promotional tours and early service here.
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This article borrowed heavily from Sam Gnerre's great blogpost on Concorde's LAX visit. Give it a read!
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Marnix (Max) Groot Founder of AirportHistory.org. Max is an airport development expert and historian.