The British Concorde prototype making its special “thank you” visit to RAE Bedford in 1972, supplied by Bedford Aeronautical Heritage Group.

The Higgins Bedford celebrates RAE Bedford’s contribution to Concorde

RAE Bedford’s Contribution to Concorde at The Higgins Bedford celebrates RAE Bedford’s often unrecognised contribution to Concorde, the world’s first fully operational supersonic airliner.

Fifty years ago, on 9 April 1969, the UK’s prototype Concorde supersonic airliner made its maiden flight at Filton, near Bristol.

The Bedford Aeronautical Heritage Group with The Higgins Bedford, has created a display to illustrate the major research contributions made by RAE Bedford to Concorde.

RAE Bedford was the UK Government’s main centre for flight and wind tunnel research from 1952 to 2001. It was located at two sites north of Bedford. A wind tunnel complex outside Milton Ernest and a research airfield at Thurleigh.

Several hundred models of wing concepts were made and tested in RAE Bedford’s wind tunnels to identify a practical wing shape for the supersonic airliner. Extensive wind tunnel testing was also undertaken of Concorde’s engine air intakes, a vital part of its ability to fly at supersonic speeds.

Two unique research aircraft were also built for and tested at RAE Bedford.

Barry Tomlinson, a member of the BAHG team who helped prepare the exhibit, said:

“We in BAHG are very pleased to be able to show some of the aeronautical achievements of RAE Bedford. They are part of the heritage of the Bedford area and something of which the local community should be very proud”.


The Higgins Bedford