IN THE BEGINNING, the entire cockpit had pervasive corrosion damage, with some instruments so degraded that their faces were not legible. This shot, taken 19 April 2001, shows the beginning of a most challenging task. Even at this point, hundreds of volunteer hours had been spent removing equipment to be able to gain access to the instrument panels. The badly discolored and fogged windshield panels presented one of our most serious challenges.
Close-up of a typical instrument group. Note general corrosion of the mounting panel and the interiors of the gages. This panel was removed as part of the general removal of all cockpit panels, instrument, and controls. Taken 22 September 2001.
This view of the back of the Flight Engineer's station fuel control panel gives an idea of how far corrosion had advanced in the cockpit. Man months of painsaking effort were required to return this assembly to static display standards.
HOWEVER, AFTER MONTHS OF HARD WORK, acceptable finished panels were completed.
Jim Goodall displays one of our first panels ready for re-installation. This is the pilot/copilot engine monitor panel, which mounts in the center of the forward instrument group above the throttle pedestal. Jim's many hours of dedicated labor are clearly evident. 22 February 2002.
A MASSIVE EFFORT BY MANY VOLUNTEERS eventually led to completion of a set of cockpit forward panels. Individual instruments were disassembled, stripped, bead blasted, corrosion treated, primed, painted, and reassembled before they were presentable. The panels themselves were taken through a similar treatment cycle. (One of the major problems with them was reconstituting the very special gray crackle coating which was used by de Havilland. Literally days were spent and many panels painted up to five times before we were able to produce acceptable results.)
A Comet celebration honoring Group Captain John Cunningham took place the send weekend in March 2002. These completed forward panels along with many Comet artifacts were on display at the main Museum in Seattle.
Meanwhile, the unrepairable cockpit windows had been removed and the surrounding hull strip and corrosion treated. Through the wonderful cooperation of people from British Aerospace, the Ministry of Defence, plus present and former Pilkington Aerospace personnel, we were presented with used but static display serviceable windshield panels.
These were installed with the immediately satisfying results shown here. Particular thanks are due to Robert Wright, former DH and Pilkington alumnus, who even went to the trouble of storing these panels in his garage until they could be prepared for shipment.
Here are the latest results from the week of November 4th. Our flight deck is beginning to look like it did when it was at Hatfield in 1959.
Forward Cockpit - showing partially completed overhead panels and completed pilot/copilot flight instrument panels.
Copilot position as seen from the left rear cockpit.
View looking forward from the cockpit entry
Navigator station with the first radio installed.