Supersonic sadness

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First, there is the obvious tragedy, the nightmare of those who died in the horrific ball of fire when Concorde flight AF4590 crashed near Charles de Gaulle airport. We are already familiar with the rituals - the condolences, the outpourings of grief, the stories of those who were spared. Each time, the disaster stories are shocking; we sit watching in mesmerised disbelief.

First, there is the obvious tragedy, the nightmare of those who died in the horrific ball of fire when Concorde flight AF4590 crashed near Charles de Gaulle airport. We are already familiar with the rituals - the condolences, the outpourings of grief, the stories of those who were spared. Each time, the disaster stories are shocking; we sit watching in mesmerised disbelief.

In addition, however, this air crash has a unique quality. We find ourselves also mourning the death of a dream. Both visually and in terms of its technological achievement, Concorde remains a one-off. Astonishingly, more than 30 years after its first flight, it still represents modern design and modern technology. Few of us have flown Concorde. But we still stand in awe of it, even when ordinary planes have long since ceased to hold us in thrall.

Reacting strongly to the destruction of a mere machine may seem a lack of humanity by man to man. But feeling for our fellow human beings and sadness at the explosive failure of human achievement are not mutually exclusive. Everything must be done to prevent such tragedies. But we should not be frightened to revere the technology with which such horrors are sometimes linked.

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