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Saturday, 2 May 2020


Available for freelance writing commissions on a variety of subjects including family history, nostalgic Belfast and its famous people, shops, shoppers & shopping, the golden age of Hollywood (esp westerns) and humorous pieces on life's weird and wonderful. Op-eds, columns, non-fiction book reviews too. & @JoeCushnan

I have a portfolio of features, reviews, poetry and short fiction published in all sorts of places - Belfast Telegraph, Tribune, Ireland's Own, Dalhousie Review, Fairlight Books, Reader's Digest, Reality, Lapwing Poetry, Ink, Sweat & Tears, Spillwords, Dear Reader, Amethyst Review, to name a selection.  Oh, and the odd BBC radio contribution. 

This is a series of very, very short items that have nothing to do with the current news agenda.  Swift diversions for a moment or two.

Apropos of Nothing #15 – 2 May 1952 

On 2 May 1952, the world's first ever jet airliner had its maiden flight from London to Johannesburg.  Crowds cheered as the BOAC Comet G-ALYP took off from London airport at 15.12 local time carrying 36 passengers. The De Havilland Comet 1 was regarded as a feather in the cap for British design and innovation and promised to usher in a new era of faster, smoother air travel. The plane's sleek design incorporated its four De Havilland Ghost 50 Mk1 engines inside the wing of the plane.
The total journey of nearly 7,000 miles took 23 hours 40 minutes, allowing for five stops at Rome, Beirut, Khartoum, Entebbe and Livingstone.  BOAC's regular flights to Johannesburg on piston-engine Hermes airliners took 27 hours and 55 minutes to reach their destination on a route 1,000 miles shorter than the Comet's.  Due to the length of the journey, the crew was replaced at Beirut and then Khartoum.

A single fare cost £175 and a return £315 - the same price as for BOAC's piston-engine aircraft.

Commercially promising at its debut, the Comet suffered a series of incidents, including the loss of three aircraft in highly publicised accidents and death tolls after in-flight structural failures caused 

Sources: Various historical sites

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