Iconic aircraft at Bonhams

Bonhams is to offer Sir Torquil Norman’s gloriously evocative twin-engined 1943 De Havilland DH84 Dragon cabin biplane as one of the stars of its 16th annual Goodwood Revival Meeting Sale.

This iconic aircraft is one of only five of its type still flying anywhere in the world, and Sir Torquil had it completely restored upon acquisition nearly twenty years ago. The De Havilland DH84 Dragon originated in the early 1930s when British airline pioneer Edward Hillman was operating the single-engine DH83 Fox Moth, and wanted de Havilland to design a twin-engine ‘big sister’ to fly from the south of England to Paris as economically as possible. Simultaneously – from a very different angle – the Iraqi Air Force had approached De Havilland seeking an aircraft suitable for patrol and communication flying. So the Dragon was hatched.

Hillman Airways received its first DH84 Dragon in 1932. It cost £2,795 and carried six to eight people on scheduled flights from Romford, Essex, to Paris Le Bourget.
Sir Torquil Norman’s DH84 Dragon to be offered by Bonhams at the Goodwood Revival Meeting Sale is UK-registered ‘G-ECAN’. It dates from the Second World War era, having been built originally by De Havilland Australia in their plant at Bankstown Airport, Sydney, in 1943. It is construction number ‘2048’ and served in the RAAF as a navigational training aircraft before being converted post-war to civilian standard. It was operated under Australian civil registrations ‘VH-AQU’ and later ‘VH-DCX’ for some time as a Flying Doctor Medical Service machine, based at Alice Springs.

It passed subsequently into the Marshall Airways collection at Bankstown Airport, before being acquired by Sir Torquil at the turn of the century. Since completion it has become a familiar sight at air shows and Vintage fly-ins around the UK – having now completed some 450 flying hours throughout Europe.

Sir Torquil Norman is an old Etonian who gained his pilot’s licence aged only 18 and completed National Service in the Fleet Air Arm. He subsequently flew his own Piper Comanche, flew in No. 601 Squadron RAAF, and took up skydiving.

A committed philanthropist and supporter of the arts, Sir Torquil was knighted in 2007 for services to the arts and to disadvantaged young people. A longtime collector of historic aircraft, he is a hugely respected figure within the Vintage aircraft community – and his gorgeously evocative De Havilland DH84 Dragon is sure to attract tremendous interest when offered by Bonhams in the September Goodwood Revival Sale.