At 3:12 London time one misty afternoon last week, exactly on schedule, the commercial jet air age began. The dolphin-bodied de Havilland jet liner Comet got the take-off signal, swept down the runway at London Airport, its four turbines whistling a high pitch, and climbed seven miles into the air carrying a full load of 36 passengers, six crewmen and 30 bags of mail. The next day, as thousands watched at Johannesburg's Palmietfontein Airport, the silver and blue BOAC jet streaked down, ending its 6,724-mile trip. Total elapsed time: 23 hours, 38 minutes. This was 8¾ hours faster...

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