I received a windfall £5.000 unexpectedly, and decided to spend £1.000 of it on something I’d long wanted to do. To fly Concorde transatlantic with its all first class seats costing about £5,000, was way beyond my budget. But there was a firm that chartered Concorde for leisure trips, one of which offered a day return to Egypt. I booked it.
We took off at 8.00 am after champagne at Heathrow. We could not go supersonic over land, so we flew just below it until we reached the Adriatic, at which point we shot rapidly to Mach 2, indicated in big red digital letters on the bulkhead. All of us had a brief visit to the cockpit itself. Through the small windows I saw a curved Earth under a black sky, since we flew twice as high as a conventional jetliner.
In Cairo I rode a camel in the desert, saw the treasures of Tutankhamun in the museum of antiquities, visited a souk, ate lunch in a marquee, and saw the pyramids and the Sphinx. We went to the Nile for a picnic before leaving.
Taking off from Cairo, as we climbed to altitude, the pilot’s laconic voice came on, “Well, I guess that’s quite enough noise abatement for the citizens of Cairo,” as he hit the throttle to shoot us to Mach 2 again. We landed at 10.00 pm that night. Had my grandfather visited Cairo, he would probably have spent 6 months packing for the trip. I did it in a day return.