In 1934 Geoffrey de Havilland was worried that an acknowledged aviation lead in Britain could slip away unless prompt action was taken. The England to Australia “MacRobertson” air race focused international attention and a wide range of impressive entrants was likely to be forthcoming. He decided to design and produce a highly specialised long-range twin engine racing aircraft that would incorporate a number of innovations with few compromises for comfort or simplicity.
In a perilously short space of time a wholly new aircraft – the DH 88 – was designed and three aircraft were built speculatively. De Havilland was successful in selling all three, albeit at a discounted rate. Not surprisingly these aircraft – named Comet – attracted the most famous and competent pilots of the time.
The first of the aircraft to fly was registered G-ACSP, named “Black Magic” and was bought by Jim and Amy Mollison (nee Johnson) who were both independently recognised as world record holders in their own right. This combination started the race as favourite.
Black Magic was the first of a great new generation of British aircraft that flew with all three of the now commonplace technical features;
- Retractable undercarriage
- Variable pitch propellers
Shortly after being sold to Portugal Black Magic disappeared for a number of decades until found languishing on a portugese farm and recovered to the UK. After passing through a number of owners Black Magic now resides in a safe and secure environment with her own workshop. G-ACSP ‘Black Magic’ is now in the process of a complete restoration to airworthy condition by the Comet Racer Project Group. Although a number of years away she will one day make her second ‘Maiden’ flight from the safety of her new home at Derby Airfield.
A vast amount of help is needed to realise the dream of seeing Black Magic getting back into the air once again. Anyone who is interested in the project would be most welcome to get in touch with us, make a donation, offer assistance or perhaps become a member (after completion of the restoration all members will automatically be entered into a draw to win a flight in Black Magic).