André Turcat filed his last "flight plan" on 4 January, 2016, at the age of 94, near Aix-en-Provence in southern France, and in so doing, his name is one that will go down in aviation history.
André Turcat was a polytechnic engineer by training, however he will always remain associated with Concorde, for it was he who had the honour of lifting off the first prototype on its maiden flight.
Born in Marseille (southern France), André Turcat obtained his pilot's license at the age of 26, going on to becoming a French Air Force test pilot, and winning a number of world records, including that of speed whilst flying a Griffon (Mach 2.19), which earned him the prestigious Harmon international trophy in 1958. He also won the American trophy a second time in 1970.
In the early 60’s, André Turcat joined Sud-Aviation, a French state-owned aircraft manufacturer, which ultimately merged with other companies, today forming part of Airbus Group. He quickly became Director of Flight Tests and actively participated in the Concorde programme, so logically it was he who, on 2 March, 1969, piloted the plane on its first flight, lasting 29 minutes, thus going down in aviation history. In 2003, once more, as a passenger this time, he was also on board the last flight of the Air France supersonic.
In 1975, at age 54, André Turcat retired, and tried politics for a short time in becoming a Member of the European Parliament. He founded the French National Academy of Air and Space in Toulouse and wrote widely about Concorde. With the disappearance of "Mr. Concorde" a page of aeronautical history has finally been turned.