Fatal Seconds

The Concorde, an aviation icon, crashes as the pilots wage a desperate struggle

As Air France Flight 4590 taxied into position on Charles de Gaulle Airport's Runway 24, Captain Christian Marty's eyes would have carefully scanned the 1960s-era round gauges in the Concorde's cockpit for any signs that the No. 2 engine was acting up. He didn't need the engine's thrust reversers--which are used to slow the plane on landing--during takeoff, but Marty had ordered them repaired just before leaving the gate. The engine, on the left side, would bear watching. Marty and his co-pilot, Jean Marcot, and the flight engineer ran through the normal takeoff checklist--engine power, hydraulics, radios--as they taxied onto the...

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