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1963 de Havilland Comet 4C XS 235 Canopus was delivered straight from the
production line at Chester to Boscombe Down as a trials aeroplane. For the
next thirty-three years it led a sedate life, amassing only 8,200 hours.
Put up for auction in May 1997, there were fears that this most historic
aeroplane would be bought by an American collector. The National Air
Pageant, supported by Lord Brabazon of Tara, petitioned the Defence
Secretary to withdraw this important piece of Britain's national heritage
and keep it in the country.
Michael Portillo MP, in his last act in government, cancelled the Comet sale, a move confirmed by his successor George Roberston MP. The Comet was sold to the de Havilland Aircraft Museum Trust but plans to fly it to Hatfield, birthplace of the Comet, fell through. Eventually, Canopus was rescued by British Aerospace and moved to Bruntingthorpe in Leicestershire where she remains in the care of the British Aviation Heritage Collection.
Thanks to the enthusiasm of ATC Lasham Limited, many of whose staff worked on Dan Air's Comet fleet, there is a very real prospect of Canopus staying in the air. British Airways has offered to re-spray the aeroplane in B.O.A.C livery, just as it looks on this page. The Civil Aviation Authority has agreed to process an application for a private category Certificate of Airworthiness. Aerospace companies are coming forwards with offers of help. The amount of goodwill which exists around the country is remarkable.
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