On July 27th, 1949 the de Havilland Comet flew for the first time. The Comet was the first commercial jetliner and had cruising speeds that shattered those of its propeller-driven relatives.
To this day the Comet remains one of the most visually striking aircraft, due in large part to its four engines being blended into the wing of the aircraft. The Comet almost looks like something out of Star Wars, the combination of the polished aluminum and engines in the wing give it the look of something that could take off from a runway, fly into space, then jump to lightspeed.
The first variant of the Comet was plagued by structural issues. Stresses on the airframe led to numerous incidents of catastrophic failure, cabin decompression, and metal fatigue.
A variant of the Comet was used by the Royal Air Force. The Hawker Siddeley Nimrod was a patrol aircraft that served as platforms for Intelligence gathering and Aerial early warning and control missions.
Now before you go asking why someone would name a plane designed for finding and tracking enemy aircraft Nimrod, remember that Nimrod was a mighty hunter. He wasn’t a nimrod, as Bugs Bunny would say, and how we generally use the word today.
The Comet was in active use up until 1997, and the Nimrod was in use until 2011. That’s not the only long-lived aircraft, the American B-52 bomber is expected to fly well into the 2040’s, which would put some of the airframes at nearly 90 years old by the time they could be retired. I think it’s fantastic that aircraft can operate for this long, it’s a testament to how well they are constructed and maintained.
Image Credits- Wikimedia Commons