In 1997, Mike Pyment, a former Comet engineer, seized an opportunity to buy the nose of Comet 4, C/N 6407 when it was torn apart for scrap at Boscombe Down. For the last ten years, he has painstakingly found replacements for missing panels and gauges on the flight deck, and restored the cockpit to as close to full working order as you can get without taking off. Every switch, light and gauge works. Throw a toggle on the engineer's panel and the gulls-eye shakes before confirming your instruction. All simulated now, of course, and as part of that simulation, Mike, with help from Charlie Grant, has coupled the whole thing to Microsoft Flight Simulator.
|© 2008, Guy Montagu-Pollock.|
It was extraordinary to step onto a fully-powered Comet flight deck, lit by its own panels, and alive with the sound of humming transformers and cooling fans. It was warm, dry and clean. The quilted lining, designed to keep the freezing cold at bay at 40,000 ft, is complete and in perfect condition. Red leather seats welcome you like the interior of a vintage Jaguar. Mike regretted not buying more of the fuselage. He wanted the entrance door and vestibule with galley, as the factory-prepared simulators had, but that was another 8 feet that he couldn't squeeze into his garage. Where he eventually chose to axe it off was just aft of the bulkhead, so your entry is through the proper doorway, and you squeeze past deep equipment racks and fuse panels. It's a great experience.
C/N 6407 was registered as G-APDF in May 1957, and went into service with BOAC in 1958. In 1967 it was sold to the MoD and re-registered XV-814, for use as a test-bed for navigation equipment and avionics, and the continued development of the Nimrod. Like so many military aircraft, it accumulated hours at a slower rate than civil airliners, lasting well into the 1990s. By contrast, Comets sold to Dan Air at about the same time had clocked up maximum flying hours by the mid-1970s.
New Comets bought by the MoD were Comet C. Mk 4Cs, a special version of the Comet 4C. The fact XV-814 was a straight Comet 4 was a benefit to this project, because I had lots of hard data on the 4C, but very little on the 4, and Mike provided great volumes of it.
The history of C/N 6407 is thanks to Martin Painter's book,"The DH.106 Comet, An Illustrated History"
, ISBN 0-85130-330-7.
A full report of Mike Pyment's Comet will follow.
And as work in progress:http://www.flightsim-comet.com