Travel to Everett to learn more about a team of volunteers painstakingly restoring a de Havilland Comet from the 1950's. Project Comet tells the story of the restoration effort, but also of the Comet's rise, and fall as Britain and the U.S. competed to dominate the new jet aviation industry. Full Focus will take us to the Boeing Museum's restoration center to see the work being done, hear from a local author who has written about the dawn of the jet age and delve into what boils down to a few crucial minutes that set the course for decades of growth of Western Washington.
Museum of Flight
By Tom Layson
Restoration project leader Robert Hood loves every single piece of the Museum of Flight's Comet 4C. In fact, it was hard to convince Bob that the non-aviation-buff viewers of this story wouldn't be fascinated with the plane's minutiae, but rather likely would be more interested in a big picture overview of the plane's significance, and the triumph and tragedy associated with it. The problem is that Bob knows too much. He already knows about the plane's history and it's role in the development of commercial jet aviation. That's why he's so focused on his project, and all the minute pieces and parts that have had to be painstakingly restored. Restoring the plane is like peeling the proverbial onion: there's no limit to the level of detail to which you can aspire. But just as I tell people reporting is actually a job of exclusion, by distilling a massive pile of raw information down into a story, the same goes for restoration. Without taking a hard look at what's important, Project Comet could go a hundred years if each rivet were to be perfectly restored. But it too is a job of exclusion. The crew has to fix problems that threaten the plane's long term structural viability, and then focus on the parts and pieces that the public will see as they view it in the Museum of Flight. So ultimately Bob is also involved in a job of exclusion, whether he is willing to concede the fact, because without excluding some of the irrelevant and endless work the Comet could mete out should a person become dangerously obsessed, the project would never reach completion. Thankfully, Bob's and other rational minds are in charge and word is the comet should be ready by 2020, which is when the Museum of Flight hopes to have its outdoor air park under roof and enclosed in glass like the rest of the facility. When that happens, the Comet will be there to tell the story of the world's first jet airliner. I'm sure Bob and many of his volunteers will be there too. I'm also sure they'll be eager to tell you about the importance of each and every part of their airplane, down to the last detail.