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December 2, 2015
This is wonderful documentary titled, "The First Jetliner" produced in 1,990 by Chicago's Public Television station, WTTW. It's about the world's first production pure jet airliner, the British built De Havilland DH 106 Comet and the major impact it had on the postwar airline industry. The program presents the complete story of the De Havilland Comet. Comments by people who were instrumental in the making of the Comet are included such as Comet project engineer, David Newman and Comet test pilot, John Cunningham. It also discusses the jet airliners that would compete against the Comet in the late 50's, the American built Boeing 707 and Douglas DC-8.
Finally, the program looks at a group of people, many of them members of the O'Hare Rotary Club, who were dismantling for preservation a former Mexicana De Havilland Comet. This Comet, XA-NAS, had an interesting and very short ownership following its' years with Mexicana from 1,959 to 1,970. In 1,976, Dick Drost, owner of "Naked City", a nudist colony in Indiana, purchased XA-NAS (by now registered N999WA). It was then flown to Chicago's O'Hare Field. Unfortunately, Mr. Drost couldn't afford the payments for the Comet. Consequently, it sat for years on the northeast side of O'Hare near the Illinois Air Guard base eventually becoming derelict in condition (during these years it sort of sat as an unofficial "gate guard" where thousands of people driving to O'Hare every day via the east expressway entrance could view the Comet to the right of their vehicles) . Years later in the late 1,980's, the O'Hare Rotary Club came forward in an attempt to save the ailing Comet with hopes of disassembling it and then eventually turning it over to the National Air & Space Museum of the Smithsonian Institution at Washington D.C. for reassembly and display. Sadly, after this program originally aired, this De Havilland Comet would be scrapped in 1,993 after plans and especially funds fell though to save her.
My apologies regarding the first few seconds missing from this television program. Anyway, hope you enjoy this well presented bit of aviation and airline history by Chicago's Public Broadcasting television station, WTTW. Happy Landings!