Brian Walpole

Captain Brian Walpole led the Concorde fleet of British Airways from the beginning of the supersonic era, and was the mastermind of its commercial success. The career of Captain Brian Walpole is second to none in the history of post-war aviation. Not only has he flown the world’s only supersonic jet airliner for twelve years, he commanded the fleet and also ran its commercial operations as General Manager Concorde. In this role, he was responsible for all aspects of British Airways Concorde operations from marketing and advertising to constant control of the fleet’s day-to-day operations. Captain Walpole became a pilot with the Royal Air Force at 18 and then joined an operational fighter squadron. His aircraft then was the Meteor, which flew in the Fighter Command formation aerobatics team at displays all overEurope.

More than thirty years later he was formation flying again – in the unique Concorde flypast. After four years in the RAF, he joined BOAC in 1956, a predecessor of British Airways, as a First Officer on the Argonaut aircraft. Four years later the first pioneering Boeing 707’s were purchased by the airline and Captain Walpole was in the fleet from the start. Within five years he had become the first training co-pilot in BOAC and then in 1971 he was promoted to command. Only one year later he was promoted again to Fleet Captain, 707 Fleet. Then, as he did during the Concorde years, he shared his time between his management duties and normal operational flying. One of the many highlights of his career came in 1975 when he commanded the 707 aircraft on which Her Majesty the Queen toured the Far East, visiting Hong Kong andJapan, and thenAlaska. A year later the Concorde era began.

He transferred to Concorde and, after qualifying; he took management responsibilities again as Flight Superintendent Technical. Soon he was Flight Manager Technical Concorde. In 1977, he commanded the Concorde, which flew the Queen fromBarbadostoLondonand the first supersonic commercial service fromLondontoNew York. His achievements were recognised in 1978 when he was awarded the Britannia Trophy, presented by HRH Prince Charles, the Prince of Wales, for his work on the launch of the Concorde New York service. In 1982, Captain Walpole was promoted General Manager of the British Airways Concorde Division, continuing once more to fly as a fully operational Concorde commander.