Sixty years ago today the Trident took to the air for the first time. Unfortunately, it failed to garner the large number of orders achieved by Boeing’s competitor trijet – the 727. Dene Bebbington and Bruce Hales-Dutton look back and detail the development of the Trident and its three main variants
The Hawker Siddeley Trident was one of Britain’s last home-grown commercial airliners. Nicknamed ‘Ground Gripper’ by pilots because of its low power-to-weight ratio resulting in a long take-off run, it was, however, a technological leader. Smog – fog, exacerbated by coal-burning – was a common occurrence in the parts of Europe that Trident would operate, so British European Airways (BEA) contracted Smiths Industries to develop an automatic landing (autoland) system.