Trident
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Death Of 1st Jet Liner Pilot

Sun Aug 11, 2002 6:16 pm

I discovered yesterday that John Cunningham, the former Chief Test Pilot of The De Havilland Aircraft Co, died on 22 July. He was 85. Cunningham has the distinction of piloting the De Havilland Comet 1 on its maiden flight in 1949, becoming the first individual to fly a jet airliner. He also flew the De Havilland Trident on its maiden flight in 1962.

During the World War 2 he had a distinguished career as a night fighter pilot flying Bristol Blenheims, Bristol Beaufighters and De Havilland Mosquitos. He became something of a popular hero in the war and was given the nick name of "Cats Eyes Cunningham" by the popular press.

With the passing of his contemporary, Roland Beamont a few months ago, it seems Britain is fast losing some of the greatest pilots it ever produced.
 
backfire
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RE: Death Of 1st Jet Liner Pilot

Sun Aug 11, 2002 6:57 pm

I seem to remember reading that his sharp "night-fighter" eyesight was attributed to a diet of carrots, a story put about as a decoy to cover the fact that the RAF was using a new type of radar.
 
Trident
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Joined: Sun Feb 27, 2000 4:49 am

RE: Death Of 1st Jet Liner Pilot

Sun Aug 11, 2002 7:37 pm

Yes, the carrot story was a cover for the use of Airborne Intercept radar (AI). In fact, it was still not oficially called Radar at the time.
 
lmml 14/32
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RE: Death Of 1st Jet Liner Pilot

Mon Aug 12, 2002 2:06 am

Cunningham earned the nickname "Cat's Eyes" too.
Do not forget the death of Concorde British Test Pilot Brian Trubshaw two years ago.
I wonder how Cunningham's death was not publicised so much. Speaking for myself this is where I got to know.