• Derby Aero Club & Flying School,
  • Derby Airfield,
  • Egginton,
  • DE65 6GU
  • Tel: +44 (0) 1283 733803

Latest News


Much to our delight and surprise, the Comet Racer Project Facebook Group, which gives more continual updates on progress on G-ACSP “Black Magic” DH88 Comet and G-ACSR Ken Ferns replica green DH88 Comet, has now passed 2,000 members. If you are visiting this website but also wish to join the Facebook Group just search for Comet Racer Project. You do have to have a Facebook account to view or join, not our rules.

G-ACSR Registration News - 15/01/2022

Latest exciting news about G-RCSR, Ken Ferns flying replica of the green DH88 Comet. Thanks to Mark Shortman from the CAA, who had a number of meetings on his behalf with the CAA Registrations Dept, it can be announced that they have agreed that his Comet can wear the registration of the original green Comet G-ACSR, on a 12 month renewable license. This DH88 Comet will still be registered as a replica with G-RCSR showing in small letters on the fuselage sides just below the tail plane plus on the fireproof plate in the cockpit which has to state it is G-RCSR.  This is fantastic news and a great boost for the project and Ken can only say a massive thank you to Mark and it is a step closer to his ambitions to recreate the start of the race along side Grosvenor House and Black Magic.  The new registration is now painted on the underside of the wing which is nearly fully painted.


Comet Racer Project Update October 2021 - 19/10/2021

The effect of the Pandemic has continued to be significant in the restoration to flying condition of DH88 Comet G-ACSP “Black Magic” as the Amy Johnson Workshop at Derby Aero Club remains isolated.  This status is constantly being reviewed.

The Facebook Group -Comet Racer Project- continues to grow and collect new and interesting information on “All things DH88 Comet!” with 1905 members currently.  It continues to provide a current Forum on progress on work going on.

In the meantime Ken Fern has continued in his isolated workshop to make great progress on his made to DH plan flying replica G-RCSR (The Green Comet) with hours of work on the painting.

New Publication – The Comet Racers Uncovered - 28/02/2021


Guy Inchbald, a member of the Comet Racer Project Facebook Group, has now published his encyclopedic book of the DH88 Comet Racers with huge detail on all things Comet.  It is NOT available for purchase through this site but directly from

The Comet Racers Uncovered (lulu.com)

“The story of the iconic winner of the greatest air race ever at a pivotal moment in aviation history has never been fully told, those of its stablemates even less so. Only five de Havilland DH.88 Comets were ever built. With one restored to flying condition and another on the way, the ever-growing community of enthusiasts have, bit by bit, been unearthing the astonishing truth. This 48-page book focuses on the new, the arcane, and the cultural heritage of perhaps the most beautiful aeroplanes ever made. It is packed with facts and profusely illustrated with rare and informative photographs.”

Clear Nose Cone Build DH88 Comet G-RCSR /G-ACSP January 2021 - 15/01/2021

Comet Racer project supporter Tony Razell has made sets of clear nose cones for  DH88 Comets both G-RCSR, the Green Comet flying replica in build by Ken Fern and G-ACSP “Black Magic” in restoration at Derby Aero Club.  This is a remarkable bit of work and a most generous addition to progress in the current lockdown.  Just as a reminder, the bottom photograph shows G-RCSR with the metal nose cone fitted onto which these fit.  The original three DH88 Comets had strong headlights in these nose fittings though later DH88 Comets and rebadged original DH88 Comets had other contents, for example, generators for radios.


The Process. (Photos : Tony Razell)







“Black Magic” G-ACSP DH88 Comet Restoration Summary December 2020 - 23/12/2020


Covid 19 has been a huge impediment for progress.  Obviously the weekly working sessions at Derby have not happened since February 2020. However it is worth recapping what the current  state of the restoration actually is and the progress towards restoring this iconic aircraft to flight.  As summarised by Martin Jones.


Structurally complete.    Fuel tank covers complete using original wooden practice.

The following installed :  Engine control linkages,  Some cockpit controls – rudder bars, stick sockets, flap torque tube. Control Sticks fabricated.    Safety harness attachments.  Canopy hinges and catches.  Canopy frame fabricated and fitted.    Front light to hand, Front transparent nose cone promised. 


Tail plane, fin, rudder, elevators structurally complete covered and in silver dope stage.  Fittings attached.  Fin balance arm fabricated. Tail plane and fin attachments :  Rudder hinges fitted,


Spars set up in jig with inter spar ribs installed.  Tip bows laminated and fitted.  Lower surface of tips ply covered.  Bottom planking ready for final flatting down.  Pick ups for undercarriage fitted.  Engine mount attachments fitted.  Fuselage attachment fittings fabricated. 


Mounting frames fabricated and trial fitted to wing.  Legs completed.  Retraction structure completed.  Gearboxes fabricated.  Lead screws purchased. Suitable wheels and brakes available awaiting inspection.  Retraction motor to hand.  Hand wheel to hand.


Three viable Gipsy Queen 30 engines with carbs to hand(fully inhibited) with provenance documentation.  Two partial engines for spares.  CSUs.    Starter/de-feathering clutches.  Generators.  Special mounting feet manufactured.  Engine bearers fabricated together with rubber mounts.  Misc. spares.  Engine overhaul facility in-house.  Engine mounting frames fabricated.  Two new GQ exhaust systems


Three new Hydromatic fully feathering propellers to hand.  Two Hydromatic domes.  Two installation kits.  One spinner shell.  Misc. propeller spares.  Propeller overhaul facility in house.


Two Heron engine cowlings available (nose fairings probably usable)


Adequate set of original drawings.  In house capability of redefining and development.  In house aerodynamic and stressing capability.


Airfield!  Workshops – wood and metal.  Hangar (extra hangarage being constructed).  Rigging jigs available.  Optical rigging measuring  equipment.  Licensed engineer support in house within LAA, CAA and EASA approvals.  Test pilot in house.  Trade suppliers for hardware, hoses, cables, bearings etc.


Official registration.  Specific bank account.  Records of construction.  Satisfactory contacts with the UK regulator.  Insurance cover.


A dedicated website!  Facebook presence with 1750+ members.  A modest network of donors both individuals and corporate who are wonderfully generous and interested.


Dedicated, knowledgeable, skilled, willing and hard working VOLUNTEERS!

We look forward with great optimism to 2021 with many thanks for your interest.


DH88 Comet G-RCSR First Whole Trial Assembly December 2020 - 12/12/2020

Despite the Covid19 restrictions, Ken Fern has been able to continue his work on his DH88 Comet flying replica G-RCSR, his tribute to G-ACSR the Green Comet in the 1934 MacRobertson Air Race.  To check all alignment he carried out a full assembly with wing, fuselage and empennage all fitted which went smoothly.  For the first time this aircraft can be seen in full magnificent form.  There is still much to do but this is a significant step and many congratulations go out to Ken for his skill and perseverance.


G-RCSR News + Covid19 Update for G-ACSP DH88 Comets October 2020 - 05/10/2020

Currently work on restoring DH88 Comet G-ACSP “Black Magic” at Derby Aero Club in the Amy Johnson Workshop is suspended due to the Covid19 regulations.  As part of the control regulations the airfield and engineering operations can carry on in controlled and separate spaces for staff in their own bubbles.  However this cannot be done in the volunteer workshop group space.  Some work is being done at individual locations.

Good news.  Ken Fern in his own workshop has been able to continue his exciting progress on G-RCSR, his DH88 plan Comet replica in tribute to the original G-ACSR Green Comet.  Most recently he has been completing the leading edges on the 44 foot wing.  The wing (seen in image below) has the full undercarriage retract system in place and components for the trailing edge.  Ken is very keen to have a trial wing / fuselage match up in time for Xmas.


G-RCSR DH88 Comet Leading Edges August 2020 - 14/08/2020

Ken Fern is fitting the lower leading edge plywood to DH88 Comet G-RCSR in his workshop at the moment, so here are some pictures  of the second pieces being glued on.  The Amy Johnson Workshop at Derby Aero Club, where the restoration of G-ACSP “Black Magic” is taking place, remains closed due to social distancing guidelines for now.


This is what the leading edge on the port wing now looks like complete with the clamps removed.


G-RCSR (Green Comet) Flying Replica Build by Ken Fern. May / June 2020. - 07/05/2020

A quick update on the excellent progress of Ken Fern’s build of DH88 Comet G-RCSR which is being built to flying condition as close to the original de Havilland plans to celebrate (Hence the close registration) Comet G-ACSR which came 4th in the MacRobertson Air Race of 1934 and set records for flights back to the UK carrying film of the celebrations.

The Lockdown has stopped any further work for the moment but the work done so far is here.  The fuselage is complete and in looking excellent in Green but still needs another couple of coats for final finish and this is the same with tail plane elevator, gin and rudder which have also had the initial coats. The wing top surface cross planking is all finished and the extra middle planks also on and awaiting for this lockdown to ease to to sand it all down.

It was planned to try the fuselage on the wing but this will have to wait as it will need a few bodies to help.   Some work can be done fitting the leading edges.  The engines are all stripped and awaiting the engineering companies to open  again to do the specialist machining.    There have to be 12 new cylinder barrels specially made for the engines as there are no originals left.  Some designing is being done on the fuel tanks for both Comets and making the front perspex domes.  A kind supporter has bought the tyres and tubes for G-RCSR  and Ken is just waiting to get them fitted.


Further news on progress from Ken Fern, ” The 12ft section of top span wise planking on the wing has been sanded and the final small section of chordwise planking glued on. This has also now been sanded and I am just finishing the sanding smoothing the rest of the wing which should be finished this week. Next week I hope to start fitting the nose ribs. It’s looking good and I am pleased with it.  Couldn’t resist taking some pics looking along the wing from where the cockpit would be.”



And here at the start of June 2020, the nose formers being lined up in place.  The mottled green is the application of the base dope.


Comet Racer Project Group | Aircraft Restoration | Derby Aero Club & Flying School, Derby Airfield, Egginton DE65 6GU | Telephone: +44 (0) 1283 733803

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