Tag Archives: de Havilland Engine Co. Ltd.

2 May 1952

B.O.A.C. de Havilland DH.106 Comet 1, G-ALYP, departs London, 2 May 1952. (British Airways)

2 May 1952: At 15:12 GMT, the British Overseas Airways Corporation’s de Havilland DH.106 Comet 1, G-ALYP, departed London for Johannesburg, South Africa, with 36 passengers and a crew of 7. The approximate 7,000 mile (11,265 kilometer) flight was expected to take 23 hours, 40 minutes with intermediate stops at Rome, Beirut, Khartoum, Entebbe and Livingstone. There were crew changes at Beirut and Khartoum. BOAC’s chairman, Sir Miles Thomas, joined the flight at Livingstone for the final stage.

G-AYLP arrived at Johannesburg at 14:38 GMT, 3 May, fourteen minutes ahead of schedule. This was the very first regularly-scheduled revenue passenger flight for a jet airliner.

The AAP reported on the Comet’s arrival at Entebbe:

Record-shooting Comet nears end of long jet flight

KHARTOUM, Sat.: The Comet airliner opening the first jet passenger service is now hurtling across Africa at nearly 500 m.p.h. on the last stages of the London-Johannesburg flight.

The Comet arrived at Entebbe, Uganda at 3.30 p.m. Adelaide time, exactly on schedule.

The eight-miles-a-minute jet will stop next at Livingstone.

It is now on the fifth and second-last leg of its southward dash.

At Beirut the first crew, skippered by Capt. A.M. Majendie, handed the plane over to a fresh crew with Capt. J.T. Marsden as skipper.

A third crew, commanded by Capt. R.C. Alabaster, took over at Khartoum.

Official air mileages on the plane’s route are:

London–Rome 930
Rome–Beirut, 1,385.
Beirut–Khartoum, 1,330.
Khartoum–Entebbe, 1,090.
Entebbe–Livingstone, 1,320.
Livingstone–Johannesburg, 608.
Total, 6,663 miles.

Reached 525 m.p.h.

Between Rome and Beirut, the plane established a new world record by reaching 525 m.p.h, beating its own previous trial performances.

The plane is carrying 36 fare-paying passengers and a crew of five.

During the flight, passengers relaxed luxuriously in the dove-grey and dark-blue pressurized cabin as the Comet, hurtling along at more than 230 yards a second, created an impression of motionless suspension.

One of the two women passengers sketched out during the flight the first music ever written in a jetliner.

“It is the ‘Comet Prelude,’ ” explained Miss Avril Coleridge-Taylor, who is the daughter of Samuel Coleridge-Taylor, famous composer, who died in 1912.

Miss Taylor, who is in her early forties, is to conduct a symphony concert in South Africa.

The first man to book on the Comet, Mr. Albert Henshaw, 63, of Lincolnshire, has been flying since World War I.

“I’ve been in them all and I’ve never seen anything like this,” he said.

“This may be as near to heaven as I’ll ever get—and it’s well worth it.”

Mother better

Another passenger is Steven Naude, a young South African who was given a mercy seat in the Comet to Johannesburg when he heard that his mother was lying dangerously ill in Bethlehem, Northwestern Free State.

The latest message from Cape Town reports a slight improvement. —AAP

The Mail, Adelaide, South Australia, Saturday, 3 May 1952, Page 2, Columns 2–4.

A BOAC de Havilland Comet jet airliner, en route to Johannesburg from London, breaks its journey at Entebbe Airport, Uganda, 1952. (Ministry of Information official photographer)
“A BOAC de Havilland Comet jet airliner, en route to Johannesburg from London, breaks its journey at Entebbe Airport, Uganda, 1952.” (Ministry of Information official photographer)

The de Havilland Comet was the first commercial jet airliner and its introduction had revolutionized the industry.

DH.106 Comet 1 G-AYLP (Works No. 06003) was the first production airplane and was very similar to the two prototypes. It can be visually identified by its square passenger windows.

The Comet I was flown by a pilot, co-pilot, flight engineer and navigator. The airliner could carry up to 44 passengers. (B.O.A.C. configured the airliner with 36 passenger seats.)

The airplane was 93 feet (28.346 meters) long with a wingspan of 115 feet (35.052 meters) and overall height of 27 feet, 10 inches (8.484 meters). The wings were swept 20°, as measured at ¼ chord. The fuselage had a maximum outside diameter of 10 feet, 3 inches (3.124 meters), and 9 feet, 9 inches (2.972 meters) inside. The Comet 1 had an authorised maximum all-up weight of 107,000 pounds (48,534 kilograms).

Cut-away illustration of de Havilland Comet I G-ALYP by artist Laurence Dunn.

The Comet I was powered by four de Havilland Engine Co., Ltd., Ghost 50 Mk.I turbojet engines. The Ghost was a single-shaft centrifugal-flow turbojet with a single-stage compressor, 10 combustion chambers and a single-stage turbine. It was rated at 5,000 pounds of thrust (22.24 kilonewtons) at 10,250 r.p.m. The Ghost 50 had a maximum diameter of 4 feet, 5 inches (1.346 meters), length of 10 feet, 1 inch (3.073 meters) and dry weight of 2,218 pounds (1,006 kilograms). When first placed in service, the engines required a combustion chamber inspection at 125 hour intervals. A complete overhaul was required every 375 hours. The Ghost was the first turbojet certified for civil airliner operations.

A de Havilland Engine Company advertisement in the Illustrated London News, circa 1950.

The Comet I had a maximum cruising speed of 490 miles per hour (789 kilometers per hour), True Air Speed, and operating altitude of 35,000 to 40,000 feet (10,668–12,192 meters). The airliner’s fuel capacity was 6,050 Imperial gallons (27,504 liters, or 7,266 U.S. gallons) giving a practical stage length of 2,140 miles (3,444 kilometers). The maximum range was 3,860 miles (6,212 kilometers).

Twelve DH.106 Comet 1 airliners were built.

G-ALYP suffered catastrophic explosive decompression while flying over the Mediterranean Sea, 10 January 1954. This was the first of two accidents caused by metal fatigue in the fuselage as a result of expansion and contraction during pressurization cycles. The DH.106 Comet I fleet was grounded and the aircraft were removed from service.

De Havilland Comet 1 G-AYLP (www.crash-aerien.news)
De Havilland Comet 1 G-AYLP (www.crash-aerien.news)

© 2019, Bryan R. Swopes

3 November 1962

The French fishing trawler F/V Jeane Gougy aground at at Land’s End, Cornwall, England, 3 November 1962. (Royal Maritime Museum)

3 November 1962: The French fishing trawler F/V Jeanne Gougy with a crew of 18 ran aground during a storm at Armored Knight Rock, Land’s End, Cornwall, England. 15-foot waves rolled the ship over on its port side. The seamen were trapped aboard the wreck.

The waves prevented the life boat from the Royal National Life Boat Institution (RNLI) Sennen Cove Lifeboat Station was unable to approach the wreck because of the heavy weather, but recovered two dead fishermen offshore.

A Westland Whirlwind HAR.10 helicopter from No. 22 Squadron’s Search and Rescue Detachment at RAF Chivenor on the north coast of Devon was assigned to attempt a rescue. The Whirlwind was flown by Flight Lieutenants John Lorimer Neville Canham, D.F.C., and Flight Lieutenant John Trevor Egginton, with winch operator Sergeant Eric Charles Smith.

Westland Whirlwind HAR.10, No. 22 Squadron, hoists survivors from the wreck of F/V Jeanne Goudy, 3 November 1962.

Sergeant Smith was lowered into the sea to recover another body, which was then hoisted aboard the helicopter. The Sennen Cove lifeboat and the Whirlwind returned to their respective bases.

Later that morning, observers from the shore saw several men inside the Jeanne Gougy‘s pilot house. A helicopter and the Penlee lifeboat, Soloman Brown, hurried to the scene, but conditions were still too extreme for a lifeboat to approach the trawler.

The helicopter hovered over the capsized fishing trawler while Sergeant Smith was lowered to the ship’s pilot house. A rescue line was also rigged to the nearby rocks. Sergeant Smith rigged two men for hoisting to the hovering helicopter and continued searching for additional survivors. Four sailors were rescued by the line to the shore. Twelve of the fishermen did not survive.

Westland Whirlwind HAR.10, No. 22 Squadron, hoists a man from the fishing trawler F/V Jeanne Gougy at Armoured Knight Rock, Land’s End, Cornwall, England, 3 November 1962. (RNLI Penlee Lifeboat Station)
Sergeant Eric Smith, RAF, is lowered to the wreck of F/V Jeanne Gougy, 3 November 1962. (BFI)
A crewman is transferred from F/V Jeanne Gougy to the cliffs by breeches buoy. (RNLI Penlee Lifeboat Station)

For his bravery during the rescue, Sergeant Smith was awarded the George Medal by Queen Elizabeth II. He was also awarded the Silver Medal of the Société des Hospitalers Sauveteurts Bretons.

The Président de la République française, Charles de Gaulle, conferred the honor of Chevalier du Mérite Maritime on Flight Lieutenant Canham, Flight Lieutenant Egginton and Sergeant Smith.

On 13 June 1964,  Flight Lieutenant John Trevor Egginton was awarded the Air Force Cross.

Wreck of the fishing trawler F/V Jeanne Gougy at Land’s End, 3 November 1962. (RNLI Penlee Lifeboat Station)

The Westland Whirlwind was a license-built variant of the Sikorsky S-55. The HAR.10 was a dedicated search-and-rescue helicopter, powered by a 1,050 shaft horsepower de Havilland Engine Co., Ltd., Gnome H.1000 (Mk.101). The engine was based on the General Electric T58-G-6 turboshaft.

A No. 22 Squadron Westland Whirlwind HAR.10, XP351, hovers during a winch exercise at RAF Thorney Island, 10 July 1964. (Graham P.)

In 1965, Flight Lieutenant Egginton attended the Empire Test Pilots’ School at RAF Boscombe Down. On graduation, he was assigned as a helicopter test pilot with D Squadron (now the Rotary Wing Test and Evaluation Squadron, or RWTES). In 1969, Egginton returned to the Test Pilots’ School as a helicopter flight instructor.

Squadron Leader Egginton retired from the Royal Air Force in 1973. He was awarded the Queen’s Commendation for Valuable Service in the Air, 2 June 1973.¹

Egginton joined Westland Helicopters at Yeovil as deputy chief test pilot, and later became the company’s chief test pilot. He from Westland retired after 15 years.

In the 1989 New Year’s Honours List, Squadron Leader Egginton was appointed an Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (O.B.E.).

Eggington is credited with three Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI) world speed records, including the Absolute Speed Record for Helicopters, 400.87 kilometers per hour (249.09 miles per hour), set 11 August 1986.²

Squadron Leader John Trevor Egginton, O.B.E., A.F.C., F.R.Ae.S., Q.C.V.S.A., Chevalier du Mérite Maritime, died at his home in Yeovil, 23 November 2014. He was 81 years of age.

¹ London Gazette No. 45984 at Page 6463

² FAI Record File Number 11659

© 2023, Bryan R. Swopes