A Comet's Tale
Sixty years ago today, May 2, 1952, the de Havilland D.H. 106 Comet was launched as the first commercial airliner, flying passengers from London to Johannesburg for British Overseas Airline Corporation. But soon, four accidents, including one that also happened on May 2, a year after it was introduced, forced BOAC to temporarily ground the fleet. Though tragic -- three of the four accidents killed everyone on board -- the incidents helped move forward the design of passenger aircraft, such as using windows and hatches with rounded corners to prevent catastrophic structural cracks when the fuselage expanded under pressurization at altitude. You can read more of the Comet's story at Air & Space here and here.
Photo courtesy: BAE Systems / NASM Archives