1973: Russia’s ‘Concorde’ crashes at Paris Air Show

On this day in 1973, a Tu-144 crashed at Goussainville, Val-d’Oise, in France, killing all six crew and eight people on the ground.

The plane had been taking part in the Paris Air Show.

Once hailed as ‘one of the greatest triumphs of Soviet engineering,’ the Tu-144 became an expensive and unrewarding adventure, casting a long shadow over Russian aviation prestige.

Despite fears that the airframe was unsafe and not airworthy for regular service, Aeroflot was eventually forced by the Kremlin to press the aircraft into service in November 1977. The airline had such disdain for the plane that it did not mention it in its five-year plan for 1976–1980.

In the end, the Tu-144 made just 55 scheduled passenger flights before being withdrawn from commercial service and carted-off into storage.

Concorde, on the other hand, triumphed when it finally entered service in 1976 and soared through the air – at twice the speed of sound – for the next 27 years.