Auctions are wonderful things. You end up going along to take a look at a car, and before you know it your hand is shooting up to bid on watches, enamel oil signs, vintage luggage and rare books. We’ve been there ourselves, but never with a biplane.
If you are in the market for a classic aeroplane the place to be is the Goodwood Revival on 9 September, where this year, a 1934 De Havilland DH84 Dragon biplane will be coming to market for the first time in its history.
The aircraft is one of just five airworthy examples in the world and was bought fresh out of restoration by Sit Torquil Norman’s Norman Aeroplane Trust nearly 20 years ago. It stated life in Australia, having originally been built at the firm’s Bankstown Airport in Sydney. It then served in the RAAF as a navigational training aircraft before being converted for civilian use after the war, when it operated as a Flying Doctor Medical Service machine based at Alice Springs.
In later life, the aircraft became the inspiration for Sir Norman’s late engineer brother – Desmond – to create his highly successful Britten-Norman Islander twin-engined aircraft. Nearly 1300 examples have now been built, compared with 155 UK-built Dragons and a further 87 Australian machines.
“The DH 84 was the executive jet of its day,” said Bonhams’ James Knight. “Its ability to cover great distances with at least six passengers and land almost anywhere ensured it was the must have aircraft of the period – for personal, commercial and military use. In fact, weather permitting, we hope to have the Dragon on view at Goodwood. As you can imagine, it is beautifully presented, harking back to the glory days of aviation, and ready to be operated by the next enthusiast owner.”