The final touchdown on Friday marked the end of an era, ringing down the curtains on supersonic travel.

Having jetted across the Atlantic at twice the speed of sound for the last 27 years, the Concorde after its final flight headed for the hangar and towards the history books.

Witnessing the awesome jets' swansong were a throng of die-hard fans and aviation enthusiasts, who waited patiently at Heathrow for the trio of Concorde jetliners to touch down.

One of the three Concorde's was a celebrity-packed flight from New York.

Capt Mike Bannister (R) and Snr
First Officer Jonathan Napier

The three jets –the other two came from Edinburgh after a short commemorative flight- were given a hero's welcome by its patriotic fans.

"We are all incredibly proud of this aeroplane and of our country because between us and France we built this beautiful thing," Concorde pilot Peter Benn said.

With Air France, the only other carrier to have used Concorde, having already retired its planes in May, air travellers will no longer have the thrill of being fired across the atmosphere faster than a bullet.

Emotions

Many were rightly emotional in seeing the jets pass into history.

"Everyone has enormous pride in all that the plane has achieved but there is an inevitable sadness that we have to move on and say farewell," British Airway's (BA) Chairman Colin Marshall said.

"We are all incredibly proud of this aeroplane and of our country because between us and France we built this beautiful thing"

Peter Benn
Concorde Pilot

Obsessive fans were far more heart broken.

"Right now I am feeling very tearful. BA, you are breaking my heart. I cant believe you are doing this to us. Have you no soul,"" wailed one of the postings on the message boards of British Concorde fan Internet site.

History

Being conceived in the 1950s, Concorde first flew in 1969 and instantly revolutionized air travel.

In the post-September 11 world of tumbling airline revenues, it became redundant and too expensive to operate.

BA is retiring them because the supersonic pioneers have  become increasingly difficult and expensive to maintain.

Passengers debark for the last
time from Concorde BA002

The catalyst for the decision came in July 2000, when an Air France Concorde crashed after take-off at Paris, killing all 109 people on board.

The crash dented Concorde's reputation. Three years later, the jet's epitaph was finally written.