On 7 April 1954, Peter Duffey co-piloted the sleek, four-engined de Havilland Comet G-ALYY into Heathrow Airport. It was the last leg of the new scheduled British Overseas Airways Corporation (BOAC) jet passenger flight between London and Johannesburg.
Some 36 hours later, with a new crew on board, the aircraft took off from Rome for the second stage of its return journey to South Africa. It began to climb to its cruising altitude. Shortly after passing Naples, over the island of Stromboli at the southern tip of Italy, the aircraft disintegrated. Seven crew and 14 passengers were killed.
It was the second mid-air explosion of a Comet in three months.