Pattern work is about circuits; up and down, round and round, in and out, and back to where you started on the airport. But I noticed a funny thing, the faster the plane, the longer it takes. With the Concorde, one circuit takes about an hour, as it turns out.
It was the last century, and I was just starting as a flight instructor in San Diego. Some Admiral decided (and good for him!) that it was time to put San Diego on the map with an international airshow - a big one! So they committed to ticket sales and marketing, and found people from around the world to bring interesting aircraft. Only the best.
To staff the event, they recruited pilots and flight instructors from the region - free access to the shows, in exchange for running crowd control on the ramp, handling radio calls on the hand-held as needed, and keeping small children from being sucked up by jet engines on the taxiway.
That's how I found myself on Concorde duty. My job? Look official, and keep the crowd to the edges of the taxi way and beyond, meaning I had the best view possible. The promoters sold tickets for rides on the Concorde, about $1,000 a seat, for a departure from Brown Field (SDM) halfway to Hawaii, getting their picture taken by the mach-meter while sipping champagne, and turning around back to Brown for a landing, all within the hour. They had lines of people waiting to go, and ran joyriding light all day!
Going halfway to Hawaii worked out well, when they cracked the sound barrier, they were safely out over the Pacific, nobody was bothered by the sonic boom.
I had mixed feelings watching the comings and goings. I would have loved to take the ride, but if I had the $1,000 disposable cash (which few young flight instructors possess) I would have sooner converted it into 12 hours of Multi-Engine time. Those passengers were looking very happy as they deplaned, though!
Thinking back, the most striking aspect was the sound. The whole process and watching the takeoffs and landings was fantastic, but it was other-worldly to hear the power in the thrumming high speed shriek of those engines, moving the plane along the taxi-way then roaring to life for the takeoff. To stand next to it, 40 feet away, was to be awed by the power and potential of those engines. Truly a memorable day!
(And I'm glad I found all my old flying slides in the box at the back of the garage)!
Onwards & Upwards,