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De Havilland Comet (ePub)

The World's First Commercial Jetliner


By Colin Higgs
Imprint: Air World
Series: World's Greatest Airliners
File Size: 71.8 MB (.epub)
Pages: 168
Illustrations: 100
ISBN: 9781526719638
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.

As featured in

Aviation News, January 2020

Featured by

The Moth

De Haviland Comet – The World’s First Commercial Airliner by Colin Higgs is part of Pen & Sword’s World’s Greatest Airliners series. The civilian equivalent of the Images of War books, this volume has the edge over the Lightning book solely by using superior paper, ensuring the excellent selection of photos is reproduced crisp and bright. The Comet’s use by the RAF is also covered.

Vulcan Restoration Trust, Spring 2019

The content will enlighten those who know not the history of this iconic aircraft and delight those of us who knew it well, recalling happy associations.

an accurate and readable story of a world’s first. A jet airliner that flew first some 70 years ago on 27 July 1949; Sir Geoffrey’s and John Cunningham’s birthdays.

De Havilland Moth Club

The author tells this story simply and effectively in a straightforward chronological narrative. A final chapter, The Comet Experience, is based on the recollections of two RAF pilots and an Appendix gives the full production list.

I enjoyed this book and would highly recommend it.

Read the full review here

Flying in Ireland

Author Colin Higgs recounts a fascinating story of the world's first jet airliner replete with cautionary lessons that still apply.

Aviation History, July 2019 – reviewed by Robert Guttman

Thanks to the author, this is a story any aviation fan can enjoy. Whilst including enough detail to keep the enthusiast interested, I think the balance is well done and it should not be off putting to those with just a passing interest in the subject and throughout, the story is accompanied by an array of beautiful photographs.

Read the full review here

KitsandBits Blog, Mark Dale

A good account of the service life of the Comet, including a long section on use by the RAF, including clandestine operations.

de Havilland Aeronautical Technical School Association

he author tells this story simply and effectively in a straightforward chronological narrative. A final chapter, The Comet Experience, is based on the recollections of two RAF pilots and an Appendix gives the full production list.

I enjoyed this book and would highly recommend it.

Ulster Aviation Society

The reader gains a unique insight into the operations and important events, as well as the daily life of Comets throughout the entire history of the type, from its first flight in July 1949 till its last in 1997.

The quality of the book and pages is excellent, as with others in the series, and this would make a great addition to any aviation enthusiast’s bookshelf. It’s key benefit is in exploring and explaining the history of this type in a compact and easy-to-read way.

Read the full review here

Airport Spotting

This new book provides a first rate review of the history of the world's first commercial jetliner, its early difficulties and their rectification. - Highly Recommended

Read the full review here


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

Blackmore Vale Magazine, 18th January 2019

About Colin Higgs

Colin Higgs has more than twenty-five years’ experience in the broadcast and home entertainment industries and for much of that time has co-produced, written and researched aviation documentaries together with Bruce Vigar of Leading Edge TV. Colin’s business, A Flying History, was created to make accessible the unique Peter Keating and John Stroud aviation photograph collections and Colin and Bruce's extensive archive of first-hand interviews with RAF veterans.

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