First flight

SIR, – July 27 was the 60th anniversary of the first flight of the de Havilland Comet jet airliner. The significant flight of the world s first jet airliner took place at the de Havilland company s airfield at Hatfield. The test pilot was John Cunningham,

SIR, - July 27 was the 60th anniversary of the first flight of the de Havilland Comet jet airliner.

The significant flight of the world's first jet airliner took place at the de Havilland company's airfield at Hatfield.

The test pilot was John Cunningham, who lived at Kinsbourne Green, near Harpenden. His crew comprised John Wilson, co-pilot, Frank Reynolds, flight engineer, Harold Waters, electrics and Tony Fairbrother, flight-test observer.

At 6.17pm on July 27, 1949, they took off and climbed to 10,000 feet. After various handling tests they flew along the runway at low level in salute to hundreds of their colleagues who had heard about the flight, before landing back after 35 minutes in the air.


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The flight of the D.H. 106 Comet revolutionised civil aviation. It doubled the speed and altitude and offered a smoothness in flight previously unheard of in the older piston-engined aircraft.

DAVID N READER

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