The prototype De Havilland Aircraft DH89 Dragon Six (E-4/CH-287) flew for the first time on 17th April 1934 and was essentially a twin engine, scaled down version of the 4 engine DH86 Express. Designed to carry 6 - 8 passengers, it became one of the most successful British built short-haul aircraft of the era and despite its primitive plywood construction, it proved to be extemely durable.
It was the first new aircraft type to be flown at Hatfield after the company moved its flying activities to Hatfield from Stag Lane. Production aircraft were known as the Dragon Rapide or simply the Rapide with the majority being the DH89A variant which was fitted with small trailing edge flaps.
The type was immediately successful in both the home and export markets with a significant number of pre-war British operators including Hillman Airways, Railway Air Services, Olley Air Services, Northern & Scottish Airways and Jersey Airways.
It also boasted a royal connection as Edward, Prince of Wales (later King Edward VIII) owned a DH Dragon Rapide and upon his accession to King, he flew the aircraft to London becoming the first UK Monarch to pilot their own aircraft.
With the outbreak of the Second World War, the type gained a new lease of life, entering RAF service as the Dominie in navigational training (Mk1) and communication roles (Mk2). 731 Dominies were utilised by both the RAF and Royal Navy as well as a number in air ambulance and transport roles.
Post-war, the type became a mainstay of the Highlands and Islands routes of BEA, the company operating nearly 20 of the type as their ‘Islander’ class.
A total of 728 DH89 Rapide and Dominie were built, 346 of which were Dominies built by Brush Coachworks in Loughborough in addition to a combined total 380 Dominies and Rapides built at Hatfield; two aircraft were also built from spares at Witney. Large numbers of Dominie aircraft were converted to civilian use post-war and the type is said to have been operated in almost every country in the world. The DH89, in all its variants, provided a durable, simple and forgiving light transport aircraft which was eventually superceded by the De Havilland Dove and Heron types.
A number still fly today giving pleasure flights and appearing at air shows around the world.
|Powerplant||Two 200 hp DH Gipsy Six (DH89), or (DH89A) 200 hp DH Gipsy Queen|
|Span||48 ft 0 in|
|Maximum Weight||5,500 lb (Mk4 6,000 lb)|
|Capacity||Pilot and eight passengers|
|Maximum Speed||157 mph|
|Cruising Speed||132 mph|
|UK||Nine examples (G-AGJG, G-AGSH, G-AGTM, G-AHAG, G-AIDL, G-AIYR, G-AKDW, G-AKIF, G-AKRP) are listed in the CAA database as having current certificates of airworthiness in January 2017. The type being a popular mount for pleasure flights.|
|Elsewhere||Other airworthy examples can be found in France, Germany, Australia, New Zealand, Spain, and the USA with a number of aircraft under restoration elsewhere.|
De Havilland Museum, London Colney
Manchester Museum of Science and Industry
|G-ALXT||Science Museum, Wroughton www.sciencemuseum.org.uk|
Musee Royale de l'Armee, Brussels
Museu Aeroespacial, Rio de Janeiro
Canadian Bushplane Heritage Education Centre, Sault Ste Marie, Ontario
Under restoration by Reynolds-Alberta Museum, Wetaskiwin, Alberta
Preserved by Danish Museum of Science & Technology, Helsingor
Musee de l’Air et Espace, Le Bourget, Paris
Icelandic Aviation Museum, Akureyri. Under restoration as ‘TF-ISM’
Israeli Air Force Museum, Hatzerim
|New Zealand||ZK-AHS||Museum of Transport, Technology and Social History, Auckland www.motat.org.nz/#/|
‘2307’ Museo do Ar, Sintra
|Spain||EC-AKO||Spanish Air Force Museum, Cuatro Vientos, Madrid www.ejercitodelaire.mde.es/ea/pag?idDoc=66EB0DC3ACBC1609C125746C0023390D|
|G-ACYR||Spanish Air Force Museum, Cuatro Vientos, Madrid|
National Museum of The United States Air Force, Dayton, Ohio.
|N2290B||Historic Aircraft Restoration Museum, Creve Coeur, St Louis, Missouri www.historicaircraftrestorationmuseum.org/|