My first ride was on Comet 4, G-APDD in December 1969 from Manchester to Ibiza. The aircraft was 12 years old and had been with Dan Air for just over two months, having been bought from Malaysia-Singapore Airlines.
It looked and smelt factory fresh, having been mainly used by Dan Air for crew training in the couple of weeks it had been in service since its ferry flight, major overhaul and repaint, and ours was one of its first revenue flights for the airline.
Boarding from the front RIGHT HAND DOOR - no left hand front door - you had to bend to enter the aircraft as the door cut out was about five feet six or seven inches high.
We sat at the rear of the front cabin, immediately ahead of the wing and, in this position, the flap drives were very noisy and there was some odd noise from the buried RR Avons - though nothing as noisy as the fan noise on, say, CFM powered B737s.
Take off was, to say the least, incredible (more later) and we climbed to FL410, in those days a level shared only with the odd Lear Jet, B720s and the military.
Visiting the cockpit over France I was met with clouds of smoke seemingly coming from the Captain's beard. The cockpit was extremely 1940s but with ample room for 5 crew (the 4 was built with seats for navigator and radio op and these Dan Air had replaced with jump seats).
Arrival in Ibiza was fast and steep with full use of reverse thrust.
The return journey a week later was on the same aircraft. The outbound flight was in darkness but the return was a daylight trip with great views over the Pyrenees from the massive oval picture windows.
At around FL400 we met some CAT which caused the aircraft to behave rather like a powerboat hitting a larger craft's wake. Also there was a cabin heat problem and the crew had to bring blankets for everyone and copius mugs of coffee!
Just 10 days later, I was to renew my acquaintance with the marque. I had to get to London for a panic business meeting and managed to get a standby ticket on BEA's lunchtime Manchester - London service, usually the haunt of Vanguards. BEA scheduled Comets on Manchester-Dusseldorf-Berlin at the time and used the London service to rotate aircraft from their London base for this, as necessary.
I was a 22 year old Sales Manager at the time and you could get a youth fare if you were under 25. So, instead of the 45 miutes or so of Vickers' vibration I found myself with a £2 10 0. (£2.50) youth fare standby ticket in the line at gate 22 looking at Comet 4B (long fuselage, shorter wings, no pinion tanks)
G-APYD, ex SX-DAL of Olympic which was to take me and just 30 or so others to Heathrow.
Departing at 12.25, we went straight to the runway and a rolling takeoff was performed. I was in the rearmost row on the port side of the aircraft and rotation was swift and the climb was very steep (no SIDs in those days). It looked like you would need crampons to walk up the cabin!
We climbed straight to FL240, at which point we commenced a swift descent! With no hold, we cut the corner from the then Watford beacon and touched wheels on the then 28R, 19 minutes and 33 seconds after wheels off from Manchester.
A couple of weeks later the aircraft was sold to Channel Airways.
That was my last flight in a Comet and it doesn't seem like 31 years ago. I visited Dan Air at Lasham in 1975 and wandered around the Comets stored there - mainly 4Bs and 4Cs. 'YD was not amongst them, having been sold to Dan Air in 1972, it soldiered on until 1979 when it was taken to the Science Museum's collection at Wroughton, in Wiltshire, where it resides (in Dan Air colours) today.