I had a hugely enjoyable meeting with the guys at Duxford Aviation society yesterday. What a splendid bunch. We managed to get business out of the way in a couple of hours, leaving plenty of time to explore their collection of airliners. These beauties are an object lesson in how to preserve and present classic aircraft; each one has its own custodian, and it was a delight to see the justifiable pride with which I was shown around.
I've admired Cosford's Comet many times, but this was my first opportunity to step inside this incredible beast. The cockpit (above) is spectacularly complete and painstakingly maintained. That 1940s technology could produce a transatlantic jet airliner is a tribute to British innovation and de Havilland's commercial bravery. So sad that this elegant machine should be dogged by the early problems that robbed it of its rightful place in history. The actual cause of those crashes has never been fully established - none of the tests were able to reproduce the failures that occurred in actual flight. Bearing in mind that the Comet's military derivative, the Nimrod, remained in service until 2011, there's no question that this was a good design.
It was a poignant moment looking back along the aisle and thinking what might have been.
Not that it was at all a sad day; when you're sitting in the pilot's seat of a Britannia, watching Classic Wings giving people the ride of their lives in the Harvard, it's difficult to be miserable.
If you haven't already explored the British Airliner Collection at Duxford, correct this outrage immediately. You'll find them on www.das.org.
Thank you guys. I'll be back!
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