De Havilland DH106 Comet 4 G-APDB
Delta Bravo was built at Hatfield as the second of a batch of 19 Comet 4s ordered by BOAC in 1955. It made its maiden flight on 27th July 1958, and on completion of its production test flying was delivered to Heathrow on 12th September 1958. It was used for crew training before being officially handed over to BOAC with its sister aircraft G- APDC on 30th September. The Comet 4s’ Certificate of Airworthiness had been issued the previous day. After making a positioning flight to New York ‘DB made aviation history on 4th October when it operated the first scheduled service by a jet-powered airliner from New York to London, in the then record time of 6 hours 11 minutes. At the same time ‘DC flew in the opposite direction, from London to New York , the two Comets passing each other in mid-Atlantic when congratulatory radio messages were exchanged. The westbound flight against the prevailing wind took ‘DC a total of 10 hours and 13 minutes, including a refuelling stop at Gander. The Comets were fitted with 16 de-luxe seats and 32 first-class seats. Just 22 days later Pan American put its new American-built Boeing 707-120s into service on the New York to Paris.route. Also in 1958 ‘DB was used by the Duke of Edinburgh as his personal aircraft for his tour of Canada. Although not designed specifically to operate on the north Atlantic route, having insufficient range for non-stop flights in both directions with a full payload, BOAC’s Comets continued to serve on that route until mid-1960, when the Corporation’s new long-range Boeing 707-436s took over. The Comet 4s then flew on services to Africa, India, Australia, South America and the West Indies, fitted with 20 first class and 48 tourist class seats. This was later increased to 81 seats in a five-abreast layout. BOAC finally retired its Comets in 1965. ‘DB was sold to Malaysian Singapore Airlines in September 1965 and arrived at its new base, Singapore, on 13Th September., where it was re-registered 9M-AOB. It was used by Malaysian Singapore Airlines on both regional and intercontinental routes, including those to Europe, for four years until on 11th September 1969, when it was bought by the British independent airline Dan-Air Services Ltd. It arrived at Dan-Air’s engineering base at Lasham on 16th September, reverting to its original British registration. Based at Gatwick, ‘DB was used mainly on inclusive tour holiday flights, carrying up to 106 passengers, but on shorter routes. Its last commercial flight was on 12th November 1973, from Alicante to Tees-side Airport, and it was then retired to Lasham. In view of its interesting history the directors of Dan-Air decided that it should not be scrapped, and it was generously donated to the East Anglian Aviation Society at Duxford for preservation. ‘DB made its last flight on 12th February 1974, making a low pass at Hatfield from where it had made its maiden flight some fifteen years earlier. When it arrived at Duxford it had flown a total of 36,269 hours and made 15,733 landings. It flew more hours than any other Comet. When the Duxford Aviation Society was formed in 1975, ‘DB became the first aircraft in its collection of post-WW2 British-built civil aircraft.
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