CONCORDE ERA ENDS
The world's only supersonic passenger aircraft has bowed out in style, ending a chapter in supersonic aviation history.
Three Concordes landed at Heathrow airport in rapid succession just after 4pm, watched by cheering crowds.
The final Concorde to land was the celebrity-packed New York flight which touched down on the north runway at 4.05pm.
It was preceded by a Concorde from Edinburgh with competition winners on board, which landed at 4.01pm.
Another jet carrying invited guests who enjoyed a trip from Heathrow out over the Atlantic and back touched down at 4.03pm.
Planespotters armed with stepladders and cameras manned the airport's perimeter fences desperate for a last look at the planes.
Other spectators crammed into a 1,000-seater grandstand.
The Concorde from New York entered British airspace for the last time at 3.15pm, dropping below the speed of sound off the west coast of Ireland.
Among those on board the flight which left JFK airport at 12.30pm were film star Joan Collins, ballerina Darcey Bussell, broadcaster Sir David Frost and Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone.
Also on board were motoring TV pundit Jeremy Clarkson and Daily Mirror editor Piers Morgan, who had a bit of a tiff.
Passengers said Mr Clarkson poured Champagne into the lap of Mr Morgan in retaliation for a picture published in the paper earlier this month showing the BBC presenter hugging another woman.
He reportedly told the editor: "That's for my wife."
Speaking ahead of the plane's departure, chief Concorde pilot Captain Bannister, 54, said he would look back with pride as he powered her engines down for the last time.
"I am proud and privileged to be flying the aircraft today. When I power the engines for the last time at Heathrow I shall be thinking of all the people in BA who've kept this plane flying successfully for 27 years," said Capt. Bannister.
Miss Collins said she was honoured, excited and sad to be on the final flight.
"The fact that is going to be phased out is quite tragic," she said.
Supermodel Jodie Kidd joked that it would be "horrendous" spending much longer making the flight in future on a subsonic aircraft.
British Airways chairman Lord Marshall admitted that it marked the end of supersonic commercial flight "for some considerable time".
The final flights bring to an end a supersonic story that began in 1956 when Britain and France began working separately on an aircraft that would fly at twice the speed of sound.
The two countries decided in 1962 to work jointly on the project but, as the original cost ballooned, the "deadline" for the first passenger flight slipped alarmingly.
The first flying test of Concorde was completed successfully in 1969.
But it was not until January 21, 1976 that passenger services began, with BA flying from Heathrow to Bahrain and Air France taking Concorde form Paris to Rio de Janeiro.
The last three Concordes to land today were being taken to join two other BA Concordes at a hangar at Heathrow for a party for BA's Concorde staff.
BA will soon announce what will happen to its seven Concordes.