G-AKRN

Dragon G-AKRN

De Havilland D.H.89A Dragon Rapide – c/n 6513

With E.A.F.S./Channel from Jan 1948 to Feb 1972

This particular ex-RAF Dominie had a more or less conflict free war, quietly moving from one maintenance unit to another. However, the innocuous Romeo November would eventually go on to become the one airframe that would remain with E.A.F.S./Channel for almost the entire duration of the life of the airline. On arrival at Southend, she was immediately converted into a Dragon Rapide and became the first of the four to enter service which she did during March 1948. Her first season was spent flying charters on the popular Southend to Ostend route (along with G-AKRO) which initially involved a stop over at Lympne to clear customs.

The following year saw her flying the same route, although by 1949 SEN had gained its own customs facilities which enabled direct services, most of which were carried out in association with B.E.A. Several flights were also undertaken to Le Touquet while during the summer, the Dragons would often find themselves transporting horse racing punters to some of the country’s largest events. As the 1949 summer season drew to a close, RN found herself making a number of trips to Jersey in September while on the 17th, she would put in an appearance at the Battle of Britain Airshow at RAF Feltwell where she would also offer pleasure flights. However, these flights came to a rather abrupt halt when she over-rotated, damaging her propeller tips in the process. She was ferried safely back to Southend later that evening where she underwent repairs. She would also fly E.A.F.S.’ final, cross-Channel service of the year to Ostend on October 9th although she would make a few more charter trips across the water to Le Bourget during late October and early November before being stored for the winter season.

Romeo November sat idle until January 1950 when she flew a charter to Blackpool accompanied by G-AKJZ. The upcoming season saw few changes to the one before with the exception of an extension to the B.E.A. associate agreement that required E.A.F.S. to fly an extra leg between Southend and Birmingham on its Ostend route although in reality, this seldom happened. Then, in May 1950 B.E.A. signed yet another agreement with E.A.F.S., this time to provide services between Southend and Jersey, these continuing through to September of that year. The following year witnessed even more changes, these coming about with the addition of Shoreham to the E.A.F.S. route schedule. As such, Romeo November would be the first aircraft to inaugurate this new service between Shoreham and Jersey on May 12th 1951.

While E.A.F.S.’ own fortunes may have been changing for the better, the ever looming, British economic recession and the subsequent onset of foreign exchange controls which were implemented during 1951 resulted in the inevitable downturn in overseas travel and as such E.A.F.S. were forced to wind down operations, their aircraft either being stored or put to work flying pleasure flights. However, the 1952 season opened with a much brighter light at the end of the tunnel and the airline was soon back in business with all three Dragons flying the new Southend – Shoreham – Jersey route and the old Southend – Ostend service. The year 1953 would see another new route emerge, that of Southend – Shoreham – Le Bourget and although it was slow to establish, all of the Dragons would take turns flying this route along with the other two established and exceedingly popular routes to Jersey and Ostend.

The addition of Ipswich to E.A.F.S.’ schedule during 1954 would see Romeo November offering pleasure flights during an unofficial ‘Open-Day’ along with Dragon Juliet Zulu and several smaller types. She would also later go on to fly additional routes which had been applied for during the previous winter months and as such she found herself, plying her trade to Ipswich, Calais, Le Bourget, Guernsey and on occasion Alderney, not to mention the old favourites of Jersey and Ostend. Indeed, it was on one such trip between Shoreham and Jersey with Capt. Pascoe in command that G-AKRN found herself embroiled in a minor controversy when she was forced to make an emergency landing on one of the island’s beaches. You can read more about this particular incident by clicking here.

With the arrival of several De Havilland D.H.104 Doves during 1955, the Dragon Rapides were slowly withdrawn however, Romeo November continued to soldier on and flew the inaugural service on E.A.F.S.’ new route to Le Touquet on May 30th. Then as 1956 dawned, the Dragons would for the most be relegated to the feeder routes between Southend and Ipswich, bringing in passengers for onward flights to the Channel Islands and the Continent that were now being flown by the company’s newer equipment. However, RN would still find herself undertaking the odd charter (Amsterdam on March 29th) while for the summer, she was despatched to Portsmouth to fly services on yet another new E.A.F.S. route to the Channel Islands.

Sufficed to say, it was inevitable that the Dragon Rapides would eventually find themselves being replaced by the Doves, however, for the time being, Romeo November would continue flying the Portsmouth – C.I. routes during 1957 and for much of 1958 plus the Portsmouth – Sandown route which was added that year. As such, this aircraft would only return to Southend for maintenance or to rest over the winter months. The following two years, would then see her returning to home ground where she was put to work on the Ipswich – Southend – Rochester feeder route, although she would occasionally turn up on the Shoreham and Portsmouth routes to meet the company’s Dakotas that generally flew this sector to Paris.

Her last flight took place on June 27th 1960 and with her C.o.A. due to expire she was taken to Ipswich (along with stable mate MH) where she was WFU and stored. By the end of 1962, the re-branded Channel Airways had ceased operating from Ipswich and as a result, the fuselage was roaded back to Southend some time in 1964 and again stored. By the time Channel collapsed in February 1972 she was in a dire state, with much of her fabric covering now in very poor condition. By August 1972 she had made her way to Burnham-on-Crouch in Essex with Hotel Mike where once again, she was put into storage. Due no doubt to her poor condition, the decision was eventually taken to break her for parts with some of the aircraft going to Chirk to help with the restoration of former H.A.M. resident Dragon G-AIUL. Sadly, in 1981 a barn fire destroyed a large number of Dragon parts including those from MH and RN, although G-AIUL narrowly escaped this inferno along with a few parts from RN that still survive to this day.

With thanks to Alan Thomas for the link above

 

History of G-AKRN

4/41 to 12/47

Taken on charge by the Royal Air Force

12/47 to 1/48

Air Navigation and Trading Co. Ltd.

1/48 to 2/72

E.A.F.S./Channel Airways

2/72 to 8/72

Kenneth R. Cork (Receiver)

8/72 to Present

Ian Jones

Fate

Broken for parts which were moved to Chirk circa 1978 and believed to have escaped the barn fire which destroyed the parts of G-AEMH

 

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