July 27, 1949: The first ever jet is flight tested
Foo Fighters, Lenny Kravitz, and Frank Sinatra had one thing in common: they all wanted to fly. Being able to fly to any destination is something most people dream about at night. One person made that dream into a reality.
Flying at ease
Born in England, Geoffrey de Havilland was once infatuated with building cars. After his marriage to Louise Thomas, his entire mindset changed. Instead of working on cars, he turned his attention on building aircraft. After spending two years, his first aircraft was built in 1909. Unsurprisingly, this aircraft was a complete disaster. Minutes after taking off, it crashed around Litchfield, Hampshire. De Havilland wasn’t discouraged from this incident. He brushed it off and kept going at it. In the following years, he had a slew of stable aircraft to his name.
Comet through the sky
After World War II, the U.K. desperately needed a working jetliner in their arsenal. De Havilland quickly lent his hand in developing this new machine. Work on the jetliner began in 1946 with the help of designer Ronald Bishop. The machine went through many changes before being completed in December 1947. The finished jetliner was named de Havilland Comet after the engineer.
The big test
On July 27, 1949, de Havilland took the Comet for a test flight. With the help of pilots John Cunningham and Harold “Tubby” Waters, the flight took place at Hatfield Aerodrome. Lasting 31 minutes, it was a complete success for the entire team. “I don’t think it is too much to say that the world changed from the moment the Comet’s wheels left the ground,” engineer Tony Fairbrother told Flight Global. In 1952, the Comet officially made its public debut to high praise. While it only lasted a short time, it opened the doors for commercial airlines worldwide.