"If you've ever worked in fast food, you know that nothing can induce the same level of giddy fright that someone shouting the word 'BUS' can. Well this was like having a bus pull up, times 10. All the tables were crammed. The floor space was standing room only. We had people spilling out the side door into the parking lot, and people were camping out, tailgating in the lot like it was a rock concert. Kids were running around unsupervised. Teenagers were making out. A party atmosphere pervaded the place.
[Editor’s Note: How little was there to do in this town that this counted as excitement?!]
"And the star attraction was headed our way. A low rumble heralded the arrival of the craft. And the rumble got louder… and louder.
"Back in the kitchen, things started falling off shelves. Noise was coming down the chimney, and the metal hood above the burger-cooking machine was acting like a resonant amplifier. The kitchen staff tried to scatter, but there was literally no place for us to go. The kitchen door opened outwards, and with the restaurant as packed as it was, there simply wasn't room to get it open. As the roar rose to deafening levels, the staff finally achieved evacuation by vaulting, panic-stricken, over the front counter and out the front doors, which looked out across the drive-thru lane towards the highway.
"We were looking right down the flight line towards Concorde when it came rocketing overhead. When it passed over us, the noise was so loud you couldn't hear it. It was just this sort of pressure wave behind your eyes. Wash from the jet engines practically took us off our feet. It took an antenna off the roof that one of the managers had strung up there so she could watch her soap operas on a portable TV in the little manager's cubicle. As it crossed the parking lot towards the airport fence and touchdown, one of the engines passed directly through the big leafy center of one of the many decorative trees that had been planted around the perimeter of the lot. As the manager's antenna came crashing down in the middle of the highway, the parking lot turned instantly into a whirlwind of whipping twigs, leaves, blown garbage, and screaming customers.
"The rumble finally faded into the distance once again as the Concorde touched down inside the airport proper and bedraggled customers slowly began picking themselves up off the ground. The parking lot looked like a wasteland. Car windows were broken. Trash was everywhere. People were staggering around like zombies. There was a stunned moment of silence, and then a cheer went up from inside the restaurant. The crowd were absolutely delighted by the spectacle of it all.
"Later, as we were cleaning up for closing, me and another employee were tasked with climbing up on the roof and putting the manager's antenna back up. In the process of doing so, we discovered the Concorde had apparently snipped it off about 6in from the top of the ventilator chimney, which she had used as a mounting point… which means that 6in was probably all the distance which had come between a restaurant full of people cheering the destruction -- or becoming part of it. To this day, I still have a horrifying mental image in my head of the Concorde's landing gear smacking into the chimney, tearing the ventilator through the roof, and causing the whole plane to lurch groundward, right into that parking lot full of people.
"That was the one and only time the Concorde ever landed there. It seems the people who make such decisions decided after the fact that the runway wasn't capable of handling a plane that big. I suspect they probably made that decision based on the quantity of tree clinging to their engine intake. And while sales were through the roof that weekend, we didn't host another special event for a good long time. -- Cam Simmons