Tony Fairbrother was born in 1926 in Coventry. After leaving school and college, he went to the de Havilland Aeronautical Technical School in Hatfield. After working in the design and aerodynamics departments he joined the company's new flight test department in 1948.
On 27 July 1949, still only 23, he was chosen to be the flight test engineer on the historic 31 minute maiden flight of the world's first jet airliner, the de Havilland Comet 1. The revolutionary aeroplane was designed and built in secret and doubled the cruising speed and altitude of the conventional propeller-driven planes of the time.
Tony went on to became head of the de Havilland flight development team for the next 30 years. He managed the development, flight testing and certification of more than 15 new types of both civil and military aircraft including the Comet 4 which, even up until recently, was being used, in a vastly modified form, as the The Nimrod reconnaissance aircraft.
Tony Fairbrother died on 7th December 2004.