Eighty years ago today, the de Havilland DH.89 Dragon Rapide took flight for the first time. The Dragon Rapide was one of the most successful light commercial transports of the 1930s. The outbreak of World War II saw Rapide production soar to keep pace with demand for communications and navigation trainers. After the war, hundreds of ex-service aircraft were purchased at bargain prices where they proved very economical in operation. Production of all variants totaled 731 and the DH.89 remained in service into the 1960s! The Rapide could accommodate up to eight passengers and was powered by two Gipsy Six engines that each produced 200 horsepower.
Here is one of AE’s photos of an DH.89 Dragon Rapide during the 2013 Flying PROMS airshow. This Rapide was built in 1944 and imported to the United States in 1973. The Military Aviation Museum acquired the aircraft in 2008 and it was shipped to New Zealand to undergo a two-year restoration. It is restored in the markings of the Rapide purchased by Edward, Prince of Wales and is painted in the Royal Guard’s red and blue colors. Prince Edward used it for official trips, and after being crowned King in 1936, became the first monarch of the British Empire to fly in an aircraft when he traveled for his Accession Council.
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