Aéroport de Paris-Le Bourget, June 1983
Freshly repainted over-all white with simple blue cheatline and the NASA worm logo, SCA 905 sits at Le Bourget airport with OV-101, the STS flight test article known as Enterprise on its back and a BAC/SUD Concorde taking off in the background. During 1983 and ‘84 the Enterprise was flown around Europe, visiting Italy, West Germany and the UK, before stopping in France for the ‘83 Paris Air Show, then continued on to Canada before visiting Alabama and Louisiana for the ‘84 World Exposition, finally stopping in California to perform a fit-check at the (eventually unused) Shuttle Launch Pad at Launch Complex 6, Vandenberg AFB. Placed in storage from 1985, then on display at the Smithsonian’s Udvar-Hazy Center at Washington-Dulles from 2003-2011, the Enterprise was moved to the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum in NYC, while 905 is on display at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, with the replica orbiter Independence (nee Explorer) mounted on its back.
The biennial Salon international de l’aéronautique et de l’espace de Paris-Le Bourget traces its roots back to 1908, when the Paris Motor Show dedicated a section to aircraft. In the autumn of 1909, the Salon de la locomotion aérienne dedicated solely to aircraft, was held, drawing one hundred thousand visitors over three weeks. Held four more times before the outbreak of The Great War, restarting again in 1919 before stopping due to World War Two. Restarted in 1946, by 1949 the show was back to an odd-year schedule, in addition to being moved from the Grand Palais and Paris Orly Airport to Le Bourget in 1953. The show is now the largest air show/aerospace exhibition, drawing almost 2500 exhibitors from 49 countries in addition to air demonstration teams and new aircraft from around the world.
Being that many new and experimental aircraft are flown at the Paris Airshow, it’s not unexpected that there have been some accidents, with two Convair B-58s being lost at the ‘61 and ‘65 shows, an A-10 crash in 1977, a MiG-29 in 1989 and a Su-30 in 1999. The worst crash, though, occurred in 1973 when a Tu-144 SST crashed into the ground for reasons that are still under debate. All six flight crew were killed, along with 8 people on the ground, as well as 60 injuries.