You Wouldn't Want To Fly On The First Jetliner

History |

The stage was set for air travel to be radically changed. The world was not fully prepared for the first jet airliner, which appeared seemingly overnight, much to the shock of aeronautics companies around the world who were set all the way back on their heels and sent scrambling to the drawing board. The first jet airliner was the de Havilland Comet. When it first debuted in 1949, it looked like a vision straight off the cover of a science fiction pulp magazine.

The de Havilland Comet

BAE Systems

Its sleek, aerodynamic design actually still looks futuristic today. It featured four jet turbines set into the wings (something you never see anymore, and which still looks cool) and a very modern profile. It was also a total powerhouse, able to provide a level of comfort and technological sophistication previously totally unseen in the world of civil aviation.

The Comet upended received wisdom that jet travel was not feasible, due to technological limitations. The critics were proven very wrong. The public was exhilarated by the Comet, though the plane's honeymoon period would come to a quite literally screeching halt soon after the Comet was put into service. Within months of the debut, the Comet was proving to be not quite the technological marvel that had been hoped.

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