Tupolev Tu-144 Fatal Crash Original video Paris Air show (1973)
Youtube / Tommy Florez
The quest for the best supersonic aircraft is one that drove a wedge between Russia and the rest of the world. Military aircraft were pretty secure in the supersonic role, so the Cold War turned to commercial supersonic travel. This battle would end up between two supersonic jets the British-French Concorde and the Russian Tupolev Tu-144.
After the debut of the Tupolev Tu-144, many accused the Russians of stealing its design from the Concorde. They appear to be quite similar and the media went into a frenzy claiming that Russian spies had infiltrated the company. Despite the accusations, these two planes would be competing for dominance in the new market of supersonic air travel.
The informal confrontation between the Concorde and the Tupolev Tu-144 came to a head at the 1973 Paris Air Show. The Concorde went about its aerial displays without any issues but it was a tough act to follow. The pilot of the Tu-144 made boasts against the Concorde, hyping up the crowds as he prepared for his aerial display.
“Just wait until you see us fly. Then you’ll see something.”
– Mikhail Kozlov (Tupolev Tu-144 Pilot)
The Tu-144 launched with a steep climb and everything was going fine until its nose started to dip. In this clip, BBC News shows film of the tragic crash as well as an interview test pilot John Farley who witnessed the crash.