Cockpit of the Tupolev Tu-144D (CCCP-77112) as used by Aeroflot (Аэрофлот) at the Technik Museum Sinsheim (Germany)
In the 1960s the designers of the French-British Aerospatiale-BAC Concorde and the Russian Tupolev Tu-144 were competing for the feat to beat the other team in bringing the first supersonic passenger plane into the air. In 1965 at the latest, when the Russians had presented the model of a supersonic passenger plane at the Salon de l'Aéronautique in Paris (Paris Air Show), it was clear that they would not relinquish this prestigious title to their Western competitors without putting up a fight. And, as a matter of fact, in the end they were ahead by a nose. On 31 December 1968 the first prototype of the Tupolev Tu-144 was rising into the skies. The Concorde did not follow until 2 March 1969. The immense likeness of the Tu-144 to the Concorde naturally gave rise to the suspicion of industrial espionage, but ultimately it was impossible to prove this conjecture. Western observers dubbed it the "Concordski", as it looked so much like the Concorde. The roll-out of the nearly finished airplane took place on 21 May 1970 at Scheremetjewo airfield in Moscow. Five days later, with a speed of 2150 km/h (1336 mph), it was the first passenger plane of the world to reach Mach 2. At its first appearance in the West one year later on occasion of the 1977 aeronautic exhibition in Paris, the Tu-144 had already reached a top speed of 2433 km/h (1512 mph) in test flights. However, the project suffered a first severe set-back in 1973 when a Tu-144 (CCCP-77102) crashed at the Paris Air Show in front of filming cameras. After several years of further development the Tu-144 finally commenced scheduled service, after all, on the route between Moscow and Alma Ata. Seven months later, however, these flights were discontinued again following another crash (CCCP-77111). The lack of profitability might have been another factor contributing to this decision. The last regular flight of a Tu-144 took place on 1 June 1978. After lengthy negotiations the museum succeeded in acquiring a specimen of this type of plane, which had made an important chapter of aeronautic history, for the airplane exhibition in Sinsheim on occasion of the museum's 20th Anniversary. In a sensational transport covering a distance of over 4000 km (2485 mi) from Moscow to Sinsheim, which attracted lively response all over Europe, the Tupolev Tu-144 was brought by water and over land to the museum's premises where it was mounted on three steel pillars in take-off position above the roof of exhibition hall 1 of the Technik Museum Sinsheim. This is the only Tupolev Tu-144 on display out of Russia.
The Technik Museum Sinsheim (Sinsheim Museum of Technology) is a technology museum with a strong emphasis on motorized means of transport.
It has been located in the town of Sinsheim (south-east of Heidelberg) in the German state of Baden-Württemberg since its opening in 1981. The two supersonic airliners Concorde and Tupolev Tu-144, which are standing together, are the most striking attraction, but the museum has several collections. The collection includes: aircraft, classic vintage cars, racing- and classic motorcycles, racy sports cars, Formula One legends, extensive militaria, mechanical, rarities and fashions. The museum was founded by car enthusiasts, with the entrepreneur Eberhard Layher as initiator. In addition, the museum also features an IMAX 3D cinema with state-of-the-art 4K technology and a 22x27 metre (about 72x88 ft) projection screen. The museum is connected to the Technik Museum Speyer (Speyer Museum of Technology) in the city of Speyer, which is 34 kilometres (21 mi) to the west.