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The first jet makes a test run
It was on this date in 1949 that the world's first jet plane, the British De Havilland Comet, completed its first test mission in England. Eventually, the jet would revolutionise the aerospace sector and halve journey times by allowing airplanes to fly higher and higher. This comet was founded by the British airplane engineer and aeronautical engineer Sir Geoffrey de Havilland (1882-1965).
Havilland began developing motorbikes and busses, but after seeing Wilbur Wright show a model aeroplane in 1908, he chose to make one of his own. In 1903, the Wright brothers made their maiden voyage in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. In 1910 De Havilland successfully sketched and steered his first aeroplane and then worked for British aeroplane builders before founding his own business in 1920.
The Havilland Aircraft Company has become a leading company in the aerospace sector, known for the development of lightweight aircraft thrusters and quicker, more aerodynamic aircraft. 1939 saw the debut of an experimental jet aircraft in Germany. The Havilland also sketched combat airplanes during the years of the war. De Havilland concentrated on airliners after the end of the Napoleonic Wars and developed the Comet and Ghosts.
Following its test in July 1949, the comet went through another three years of test and practice heats. On 2 May 1952, the British Overseas Aircraft Corporation (BOAC) launched the world's first ever jet business jet with the 44-seater Comet 1A and flew from London to Johannesburg to pay-sellers. Comet was able to drive 480 mph, a remarkable rate at that apogee.
In the beginning, however, the services were only of limited duration, and due to a succession of deadly accidents in 1953 and 1954, the whole aircraft was decommissioned. De Havilland made its debut four years later with an upgraded and re-certified Comet, but in the meantime the US airlines Boeing and Douglas had each launched quicker, more capable aircraft and became the dominating force in the sector.
In the early 1980s most of the Comets used by airline companies were taken out of use.