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Restoration Of Historic Jet Nears Finish

Tom Banse

If you're an air traveler, you may not realize the debt you owe to a path–breaking plane launched in Britain in 1949. The jet age of passenger travel began with the de Havilland Comet airliner.

Historic newsreel clip: "Jets will enable Britain's future airliners — in mass production by 1953 — to do twice the work in half the time at four–fifths the cost. Tails up for Britain!"

Now the only surviving de Havilland Comet in the Western Hemisphere is being restored in Everett, Washington. Correspondent Tom Banse reports.


Ironically, this museum piece is being lovingly restored mostly by retired workers from de Havilland's plane–making rival Boeing. The painstaking work has been underway for the past 15 years. Volunteer Bob Hood says the interior could be finished by the end of this year and then full restoration is in sight.

Bob Hood: "People don't realize how much air travel has changed. The Comet made worldwide travel possible and practical because the piston airliners were slow and high maintenance and they just didn't have the comfort for passengers that the jets did."

Hood says this restoration takes so long because many corroded airplane parts have to be copied and retooled by hand.

The 81–passenger jet is now back in good enough shape so that aviation buffs can tour it at the restoration center in Everett. Eventually the Comet will move into a new gallery at the Museum of Flight in Seattle.

I'm Tom Banse in Everett, Washington.

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