World's first jet airliner takes off from Hatfield

THE world s first commercial jet airliner, which was built in Hatfield, made its inaugural flight 60 years ago on July 27. And to celebrate the de Havilland Comet being one of the most innovative creations in aviation history, if not the history of the

THE world's first commercial jet airliner, which was built in Hatfield, made its inaugural flight 60 years ago on July 27.

And to celebrate the de Havilland Comet being one of the most innovative creations in aviation history, if not the history of the 20th century, the WHT pays homage to the original high-speed passenger-carrying jet.

- VIDEO OF THE WORLD'S FIRST JET AIRLINER SERVICE FROM LONDON TO JOHANNESBERG -

ON the evening of Sunday, July 27, 1949, the original Comet airliner sat on the runway of de Havilland, Hatfield, preparing for her first ever take-off.


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An all-metal, low-wing airliner with accommodation for 36 passengers, it was the first to be powered by jet engines and sat smartly on the deck.

Under the command of de Havilland chief test pilot John Cunningham, a famous wartime night fighter pilot, the first prototype of the DH106, the Comet G-5-1/G-ALVG, flew for a total of 31 minutes.

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The aircraft, which was also the first to fly up to 40,000ft, made its next appearance being publicly displayed at the 1949 Farnborough Airshow before beginning flight trials.

A year later, the second prototype made its maiden flight. And by 1952 a total of 10 Comets were ordered by the British Overseas Airways Corporation.

The first, G-ALYP, made the world's first jet airliner service from London to Johannesburg on May 2, 1952.

Unfortunately, once in production across airliners worldwide, the Comet suffered a number of accidents largely due to the innovative nature of the programme.

After one disintegrated and fell into the sea near Elba, killing all on board, the series was immediately grounded.

Such problems as square windows creating extra stress on the metal fuselage were found out after further tests.

During the next few years modifications were made to different models.

But it was not until the Comet 4, completed in 1958, that the final polished version of the original was released.

It broke further records and also became the first North Atlantic jet service and over 70 were built and sent out across the world.

The last Comet to fly was the Canopus (Serial XS235), which is kept in running condition at Bruntingthorpe Aerodrome, where she regularly conducts fast taxi runs.

However, the design of the fuselage was so good it was used again to build the Hawker Siddeley Nimrod maritime patrol aircraft.

- TAXI FOOTAGE OF THE LAST COMET, WHICH IS KEPT RUNNING AT BRUNTINGTHORPE AERODROME -

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