The year opened with Messrs. Hanslip and Fillingham based in Mexico with XA-NAR, NAS, NAT for a few months. With Mexicana crews Capt. Sottill, Travino, Delgardo and Labardi they were operating North and South American services. Guest Aerovias crews were trained in January with Capt. Lavatt along with John Hanslip operating the first Miami service for Guest (in NAT). Guest Comets were leased from Mexicana.
Services expanded with the increase in the number of available crews. Capts. Salcedo, Frias Inglesias, Herrera, Lazama, Ballato, Escalante and Gusman joined the Comet crews. On the 7th April a service was opened up to Paris (via Miami, Bermuda, S. Maria, Lisbon and Madrid) total flying time 15hrs. 35 min.
This period in Mexico lasted November 1960 to July 1961. Total hours accumulated in Mexico from Jan – June 1961 were 560hrs. 10 min.
G-ARJN Comet 4B.
Destined for BEA its first flight was with PF on 21st July 1961. The flight lasted 4hrs. 40 min. and was followed with a second production flight on the 26th lasting 4hrs. 15 min. Further flights followed during the rest of the month.
XK669 Comet 2.
This aeroplane was tested on a number of flights from Chester after modifications. It was commanded by JH on these flights made between 26th and 28th September.
XK671 Comet 2.
again flew from Chester 13th December.
XR396 Comet 4C.
Was one of five 4Cs for Transport Command. (the series numbers were XR395-399). It flew from Chester to Hatfield on the 28th December to begin production test flying.
The year ended with LEFY having accumulated 2641hrs. 50 minutes including 579hrs. 20 min. added during the year – again all on Comets.
XR397 Comet 4C.
The RAF Comet 4Cs were progressively production tested during the first quarter of the year and were all handed over to Transport Command by the end of April. 21st February saw a flight with Jimmy Phillips who had recently joined the de Havilland staff.
XA-NAR, XA-NAS, XA-NAT
31st March 1962 meant a return to Mexico. XA-NAR, NAS and NAT operated services as before but in addition there were new routes to Guatemala, Caracas, Curacao ( and on one occasion a rapid return to Curacao when both A.S.I.s were found to be incorrect!). New commanders flown with included Garagasa and Cauduro.
This stint in Central America lasted until the 11th August. 166 flights were made totaling 440hrs. 15 minutes. The Log entry shows total hours to date on 4Cs as 1604hrs. 55 min.
A SIGN OF THE CHANGING TIMES came on the 14th September 1962 with the first familiarization flight on the new D.H. 121 ‘Trident’. G-ARPC was the third Trident 1C to be produced. The flight was commanded by Peter Barlow.
G-APDM Comet 4.
On 22nd September this BOAC Comet was flown from Stansted to London Airport.
XK695 Comet 2R.
At the end of the month this Comet was brought back to Hatfield from Cambridge (Marshall’s) where ‘radio’ mods were made (JH). On the 10th December R. Clear commanded test flights from Hatfield.
The year ended with attention turning to the Sudan Airways 4C. This Comet had been originally allocated to Mexicana but the option was not taken up. It made its maiden flight on the 8th December. Peter Barlow and Peter Buggé rounded the year off with production testing locally from Hatfield, including a trip to Bedford (RAE) and finally delivered it to Sudan Airways at London Airport on the 21st December.
The year ended with LEFY having accumulated 3130hrs. 25 minutes including 486hrs. 55 mins. added during the year.
ST-AAW Comet 4C.
10-11th Jan. Was delivered to Khartoum – after an initial short 30 minutes hop to Stansted – the Stansted – Khartoum leg taking 6hrs. 40 mins. Commander was PF.
XK695 Comet 2R.
February saw more test flying with this RAF aeroplane (R. Clear, JH, and JP). Between the 1st and 8th March, with D. Penrose, a number of long test flights were made culminating in its delivery to Watton.
APRIL saw a switch to Trident flying as an EII on G-ARPB – becoming E1 on the 11th May. All these flights were with Peter Barlow. The first flight of G-ARPE came on the 2nd June with JC and on the 5th May a trip to the Paris Air show, Le Bourget was made. On the 13th, 14th and 15th display flights were made (for the 15th the Log comment was filthy weather!).
Trident test flying was to dominate the remainder of the year.
Only two Comet flights were made during the remainder of 1963 as Comet production came to an end and Trident production increased –
SU-ALM Comet 4C.
23/10/63 This United Arab Airlines Comet was ferried by R. Clear from RAF Broughton to London Airport after repairs.
17/12/63 This Kuwait Airways Comet was brought back to Hatfield from Chester.
The year ended with LEFY having accumulated 3343hours 30 min. Of 213hrs. 05 minutes flying-hours added during the year only 28hrs. 20 min. were on Comets.
1964 involved much ground work. Only two flights were made the whole year –
XK716 Comet 2C.
A 2hrs. 50 min. test flight from Hawarden with A.G. Brandon on the 15th October 1964.
This United Arab Airlines Comet was moved from Hawarden, Chester to London Airport commanded by Jimmy Phillips.
G-APMA Comet 4B.
On 13th April this BEA Comet was flown to Oslo from London Airport via Gothenberg and returned the same day.
XK698 Comet 2.
This RAF Transport Command was flown with A.G. Brandon on two flights from Chester after a major overhaul.
During 1964/65 only 13hrs. 27 minutes were added on Comets. The rest of the time was spent on Trident development. Auto-landing was extensively tested and demonstrated to the BBC and press on the 3rd June 1965 – the first fully automatic landings to be shown to the public.
Left de Havilland and joined Kuwait Airways in June-1966 and after a short period began crew training on Comets and Tridents. Leaving aside their Tridents, Kuwait Airways operated three Comets 9K-ACA (4C) 9K-ACE (4C) and 9K-ACI an ex-BOAC Comet 4.
Initially based in Beirut Comet routes served were Bahrain, Frankfurt – London; Kuwait – Cairo – Kuwait, Beirut – Paris – London – Frankfurt – Beirut, Kuwait – Cairo – Beirut, Kuwait – Damascus – Beirut, Kuwait – Cairo – Geneva – London – Paris – Beirut, Beirut – Kuwait – Bahrain – Bombay – Bahrain – Kuwait, Beirut – Kuwait – Doha – Bombay – Doha – Kuwait – Beirut, Beirut – Dubai – Karachi – Dubai – Kuwait and Kuwait – Amman – Kuwait.
Captains flown with (Comets listed only) Sibson, J. Everest, A. Heborn, L.Hijjawi, E.Pridmore, K.Sharp, B.Shuhaiber, Baidoun, E.Jepps, Ian Whittle (son of Sir Frank). R. Greenhough, G. Tierney,
The year ended with LEFY having accumulated 4055hrs. 10 min. The year had been spent mostly operating Comets.
The year opened on Comets and this lasted until May 18th.(total hours were 4307 – 15min.) when a switch was made to Tridents until November. Comet operations finished off the year. Total hours flown were 4691hrs. 35 mins.
Continued to operate on Comets until 28th September 1968. Total hours were now 5233hrs. 35 min.
In November training started on the Boeing 707-369C as E11 and following a Base Check in Seattle became E1 on 27th November. The 707 went into service with Kuwait Airways on the Athens route and soon extended to most long distance routes.
LEFY did not operate on Comets again after the 28th September 1968.
What of the Comets –
9K-ACE was also leased to M.E.A. on the same date but returned in July 1969. It too was sold to Dan-Air in March 1971.
9K-ACI was leased to M.E.A. in December 1968. It was returned in May 1969 and sold to Dan-Air in September 1970.
LEFY went on to become Chief Flight Engineer a post he held for a number of years before retiring in September 1979.
Kuwaiti airline operations moved to Kuwait from Beirut in January 1970 when a new airport and facilities were built.