6 JUNE 2022


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Article from BTNews 6 JUNE 2022

Anniversaries galore *

June 2 may be synonymous with the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II but it is not the only 70th anniversary we celebrate.

Hilary and Tenzing conquered Everest the day before, and the De Haviland Comet had operated the world’s first commercial jet airliner service. Just one month earlier, 2 May a BOAC Comet 1 departed from London Airport, as it was then called, bound for Johannesburg (South Africa).

The 36-seat jetliner took almost 24 hours to make the journey, stopping five times for refuelling en-route, at Rome, Beirut, Khartoum, Entebbe and Livingstone and changing crew at both Beirut and Khartoum. The first return airfares were £350.

Prince Philip, a proper aviation man and as inquisitive as ever, made his first Comet trip in August 1952, and just after the Coronation, Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother and Princess Margaret were guests on a special flight of the Comet on 30 June 1953 hosted by Sir Geoffrey and Lady de Havilland.

Within a year of entering airline service, problems started to emerge, three Comets being lost within 12 months in highly publicised accidents, after suffering catastrophic in-flight break-ups.  

Whilst the design problems were resolved the Comet was not a real success only 119 being built.  

Learning lessons from the de Havilland tragedy, Boeing flew the 707 in 1954 with Pan Am introducing the aircraft 28 October 1958.  Remarkably the overall cross section was retained for future Seattle single aisle types including the latest MAX.  Airbus made their competing A20 just that little bit wider.  The last Comet derivative, the RAF Nimrod flew its final operational sortie 28 June 2011.


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OUR READERS' FINEST WORDS (All times and dates are GMT)

All comments are filtered to exclude any excesses but the Editor does not have to agree with what is being said. 100 words maximum

Michael Bartlett, United Kingdom

Thank you for reminding readers of the history of the DH Comet 4. On the 22st May 1975 I had the privilege and fun of being aboard the "final flights" of the DH Comet 4B operated by DAN AIR - London Gatwick to Newcastle and return. DA 132 and DA 133 G-ARJN outward and G-APME return. An exciting day out. I was reminded of my many flights with DAN AIR aboard their HS 748s between Ashford (Lympne) Airport and Beauvais om France. "Those were the days".

David Starkie, United Kingdom

Thank you for a very useful reminder, and for not forgetting the Everest conquest. BEA Comet 4B.