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De Havilland Comet (Paperback)

The World's First Commercial Jetliner


By Colin Higgs
Imprint: Air World
Series: World's Greatest Airliners
Pages: 168
ISBN: 9781526719614
Published: 12th December 2018



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The world got a little smaller in July 1949 when the first jet-powered airliner took to the skies barely four years after the end of the Second World War.

Not only was the de Havilland Comet 1 was a lot faster than previous airliners, it could fly higher and further. It was packed with new technology but, perhaps most importantly for those early passengers, it was a quiet, luxurious and even pleasant experience, something that could never be said for the noisy piston-engine aircraft that came before.

The Comet’s leadership in jet travel for the future was assured until aircraft began crashing. The first ones were put down to pilot error but two disastrous events in 1954 grounded the fleet and Britain’s advantage over the rest of the world was lost. Boeing caught up with its ubiquitous 707 and the Comet was destined to become but a memory.

However, rising from the ashes came a new Comet – one that was bigger and more powerful than before and designed for completely different roles. Where the first Comets had provided an expensive and plush way to travel for the rich few, the new Comet 4s carried more passengers to a multitude of destinations inevitably becoming key carriers for the early package holidaymakers. At the same time they became vital strategic transports for the RAF as the British Empire receded.

This book tells the full story of the world’s first jet-powered airliner, from its remarkable beginnings, through its early flight trials programme to its entry into service. The type’s military career is also covered, as is its construction; also included in this volume are details of the numerous variants produced and those still surviving as exhibits today.

Article: 'New book charts history of first jet airliner' as featured by

Blackmore Vale Magazine, 18th January 2019

About Colin Higgs

Colin Higgs and Bruce Vigar are Aviation historians with extensive interview experience. Together they have access to a great archive of images, a selection of which have been used here to great effect.

Perfect Partner

De Havilland Enterprises: A History (Hardback)

Captain Sir Geoffrey de Havilland was one of the world’s true pioneers of powered flight, a man as important to Britain in aviation terms as the Wright brothers were to America. From humble beginnings, he went on to develop some of the finest aircraft to see action during the First World War, before going on to create the illustrious company that bore his name. All of this began in his youth when, without experience, plans or instructions, he embarked on the ambitious task of not only building his very first flying machine, but also constructing the engine to power it. This book explores the…

By Graham Simons

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