SFO Museum’s SST show lauds revolutionary airplane’s legacy
SAN FRANCISCO — The SFO Museum is now presenting Supersonic Transport: The First Generation, an exhibition on the legacy of the first-generation SSTs (supersonic transports) through aircraft models, airline flight attendant uniforms, meal service sets, photographs, and video excerpts from the 1976 British Airways promotional motion picture Transatlantic Supersonic. It of course features the one SST that gained enduring global fame — the Concorde — and displays models for rival planes that never came to be. Supersonic Transport: The First Generation is on view through November 12.
In the early 1960s, Great Britain, France, the Soviet Union and the United States each began exploring the viability of commercial supersonic transports. In 1962, Britain and France joined forces on the Concorde SST project, and the next year, President John F. Kennedy announced an American equivalent. After winning the U.S. government contract, Boeing reconfigured and refined its 2707 SST design. However, in 1971, Congress cancelled funding before a prototype could be produced.
Amid the height of the Cold War, the Soviets rushed forward with their SST design, the Tupolev Tu-144. It became the first SST to fly supersonic in 1969, and passenger service was launched in 1977. Yet, with little market for high-priced supersonic travel in the Soviet Union, operations were intermittent and brief and ended in the early 1980s.
Air France and British Airways launched Concorde service in 1976, and shortly after, Braniff International and Singapore Airlines also briefly offered Concorde service. Traveling at twice the speed of sound, British Airways and Air France Concorde supersonic service remained a highly compelling flight experience for those who could afford the premium-priced fares. Service continued uninterrupted, primarily on transatlantic routes, until 2000 and then again from 2001 to 2003, when the SST was retired.
This exhibition features a unique collection of SST models, flight attendant uniforms and inflight items that chronicle the development and service of the first-generation SSTs. The exhibition continues upstairs with a unique collection of Air France and British Airways Concorde SST promotional and inflight items that detail the supersonic transport’s development and service, including flight packets, luggage tags, safety cards and souvenir gifts.
Visit www.sfomuseum.org/exhibitions/supersonic-transport for more information about the exhibition.
Supersonic Transport: The First Generation can be viewed pre-security in the Aviation Museum and Library in the International Terminal of San Francisco International Airport. There is no charge to view the exhibition. The Aviation Museum and Library is open daily from 10 am to 4:30 pm Pacific time and is closed on holidays.
About SFO Museum
Established in 1980 by the Airport Commission, SFO Museum’s mission is to delight, engage and inspire a global audience with programming on a broad range of subjects; to collect, preserve, interpret and share the history of commercial aviation; and to enrich the public experience at San Francisco International Airport. The museum has been accredited by the American Alliance of Museums since 1999 and retains the distinction of being the only accredited museum in an airport.
Today, SFO Museum operates more than 25 sites throughout the airport terminals, including 14 galleries that exhibit a rotating schedule of art, history, photography, science and cultural exhibitions. Among the sites is the San Francisco Airport Commission Aviation Library and Louis A. Turpen Aviation Museum, which houses a permanent collection of more than 150,000 objects related to the history of commercial aviation. To browse current and past exhibitions, research the collection, or for more information, please visit www.sfomuseum.org.