Comet Mk4C Restoration News
The First Intercontinental Jet Airliner
"Dedicated to restoration of the first Mk4C and the last complete de Havilland Comet in North America"
From the Desk of Bob Hood & Jim Goodall ~ Comet Progress Update
Great Progress to Report!
After 11½ long years we have reached the tipping point! Visitors to the Paine Field Restoration Center will now have a clear view of the Comet interior's ultimate appearance.
When they step through the forward door, they will enter a completely restored forward galley. To the right is the cockpit in all of its immaculate original glory. To the left, they can look past the restored forward toilet into the passenger compartment with accurately reproduced original colors in place. The wall and ceiling panels are now complete and the port side parcel shelf installed. Within a very short time the opposite parcel shelf will be installed, and the compartment will only need the curtains, upholstered seats and carpets to be finished.
Those of us who only had a few pictures from the de Havilland archives, (courtesy of British Aerospace), can now see exactly what the original designers had in mind AND IT IS BEAUTIFUL! The forward passenger compartment shows a combination of colors and materials that is extremely attractive today, while still keeping faith to the sensitivities of the 1950's. That the Golden Aztec design still appears fresh after all this time is an amazing tribute to the designer's artistic taste. Congratulations to Jim Goodall, volunteer Ross Michel, and many others for their days of very hard labor that produced such masterful results.
Of course, it took a long-term effort to reproduce that original appearance. Worldwide sources ranging from the Netherlands to New Zealand were tapped to reproduce our aircraft's appearance when it first flew at Hatfield in 1959. C.L. "Frenchy" Foushee, was the key mover in acquiring special laminates and other materials.
In the final stages of assembly, Jim and the volunteers brought together special adhesive from DAP Weldwood, curtain slides with custom aluminum extrusion contributed by Teague, plus components from Skyline Products, using inventory acquired in years ranging from 1999 to early 2006, backer board from E. B. Bradley, and many additional items.
Dick Oliver's recently installed desiccant tubes and upgraded lighting system lends color and brilliance to the whole, while the toilet, courtesy of Bill Publicover and Phil Sacks, is restored to its striking and colorful appearance.
Now preparing for installation in this space, tourist class seats are being progressively modified by Corey Rosenberg. We are actively searching for a source of 22 first class seats.
The series of photos on the right tells the forward passenger compartment story.
Great news from England! Bob Wright, our virtuoso at securing Comet spares, has been working with BAE Systems and the civilian contractor that runs the landing gear overhaul hangar bay at RAF Kinloss. The contractor kindly contacted top military authorities who speedily granted permission to transfer surplus parts for our ship!
By the time you read this, Bob will have flown to Scotland to meet directly with them and check on availability of the specific parts we need. Meanwhile Dennis Parks, MOF Curator, is looking into the best possible shipping methods.
We are taking advantage of the good weather by beginning to remove the badly corroded aft lower fuselage skin in the curved area just forward of the horizontal stabilizer. In this area, corrosion has advanced to the point that rivets are literally being split off from the interior longitudinal stiffeners. Since this location consists of large compound curved panels, we are planning to remove the internal stiffeners, manufacture new ones, and reuse the original skin. We would like to replace this skin also, but have not been able to find anyone with good English wheel skills.
Our past issue mis-identified the source of our laminate materials. It was Ron Taisey at E. B. Bradley Company, the Kent Washington Wilsonart distributor. Our apologies for the error and _ of course _ continued gratitude for their help.
Sadly, Comet restoration friend Frenchy Foushee suffered a sudden heart attack and passed away this past spring. Frenchy was a central part of the restoration of two of the Museum's most significant airliners. His contributions were key to restoration of the first modern piston airliner - the Boeing 247D - and the first jet airliner - the de Havilland Mk4C. In both cases, he was the main source of custom materials required to return these aircraft to their original appearances.
He was an astute friend, whose wide ranging knowledge of sources and personal contacts with aircraft interior fabrics and laminates manufacturers was priceless. He was the individual who made it possible for us to accurately duplicate the way our Museum aircraft looked in the 1930's and the 1950's.
For the past nine years, Frenchy volunteered many hours of his time and experience to find Comet interior materials in locations ranging from the Netherlands to New Zealand.
During rough periods, when funds were especially tight, Frenchy was the one who ran interference with manufacturers waiting for their invoice payments. Recalling his patience and good will, I think we all must admire his wonderful commitment to our project.
Frenchy kept an open minded attitude of a much younger man, a world traveler with many trips to exotic and interesting places. He passed away one day short of his 85th birthday in the midst of one such trip to Machu Pichu, in Peru.& That he left us while engaged in a pursuit he found interesting and challenging seems to be a fitting conclusion to a very good life.
Over 200 people attended a special memorial celebration at the Museum in honor of Frenchy. Many thanks to his friends and family members who have generously contributed to the Comet Restoration fund in his memory.
Comet restoration crew members pose for the camera.
Standing from left: Dale Champman, Bruce Cronk, Jim Goodall, Dick Oliver, Jerry Swearingen.
Kneeling: Bob Hood, Corey Rosenburg, Russ Hoff.