Sunday, January 24, 2010

Riding on a Comet

I'm going through's time for another airplane picture again.

This is one of the first aviation photos I ever took. It was Saturday, 14 February 1965 and this B.O.A.C. (British Overseas Airways Corp) De Havilland Comet 4 flew us from Hong Kong to Singapore and then on to Kuala Lumpur, Malaya (now Malaysia).

I was 10 years old and my sister and I were on at trip with my uncle to see our Chinese grandfather, who was seriously ill in Malaya. It was my first plane trip, my first (and so far only) overseas trip to a foreign country and my first trip to a non-Western-looking culture - at least parts of it were non-Western looking. And it was my first use of a camera. My mother showed me how to use a Kodak Brownie Box Camera just days before we left.

How do I know the exact date? As part of my being allowed to take three weeks off from school, I was required to keep a journal and to make notes of the differences between life in the United States and of that in Malaya and Singapore. I still have that journal and it makes for some interesting reading today - considering it was written by a reluctant 10 year old.

I did manage to note the registration numbers on the first two airplanes we flew on: 817 and "1." I later extrapolated those to Pan American N817PA and N801PA, both Douglas DC-8 jetliners. Ironically I was sure one of them was a Boeing 707, but it did not prove to be so.

I did manage to note the BOAC aircraft, but not by name. I was quite shocked to discover much later I had ridden on a Comet. Wow!

I also remarked on the Malaysian Airlines plane we flew on a few days later. I didn't know what it was at the time, but I drew a picture of it in my journal. Later I was able to determine
that the twin-engined, shoulder-high winged airplane was a Fairchild-Fokker F-27, another nice surprise.

The Cathay Pacific jet was just mention by company name; my only guess is was either a Convair CV-880 or CV-990, even though at the time I thought it was a Boeing 707, like I thought the DC-8s were. Later research showed that the Cathay Pacific jet was more likely one of the Convairs. Both were in service at the time, so it's a reasonable guess it was one of those.

If, by some miracle I managed to get a 707 on one of the return legs, either from Hong Kong to Tokyo or Tokyo to Honolulu or Honolulu to L.A., then I would have pulled off the neat feat of riding each of the four major Western overseas jet transports types of the era! Unfortunately that's not certain, but it's nice to fantasize about.

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