De Havilland DH-84 Dragon I

Dragon G-ACIT

G-ACIT – c/n 6309

With the H.A.M. from Sep 1971 to May 1983

One of the H.A.M.’s oldest multi engined residents – G-ACIT – was built by the De Havilland company in 1933. This aircraft was later impressed as an Air Ministry hack at the outbreak of war before being handed over to B.E.A. in 1940 although ultimately, this aircraft belonged to Capt. Freeson and his pre-war airline Scottish Airways that had previously been based at Dornoch Airfield. After the war, the aircraft was returned to her original owner and the company was renamed as Highland Airways which then commenced flying Britain’s first, aerial postal services to the Scottish Islands. In November 1951, she was sold to the Air Navigation and Trading Company Limited based in Blackpool who used the aircraft on U.K. tours and pleasure flights which included joy rides around Blackpool Tower.

Then, in the late ’60s she ended up in the hands of John Beaty who named her ‘Orcadian’ and regularly flew her from Drayton Home Farm in Slipton. During this time, India Tango was often seen on the display circuit and put in an appearance at the Hatfield Open Day in the summer of 1971 before finally flying to the H.A.M. a couple of months later where she entered preservation. Being one of the museum’s most prized acquisitions, she was kept in the hangar and as such, remained in excellent condition. Come auction day, the competition was fierce and this Dragon secured the second highest bid of the day, finally being procured by the Science Museum at Wroughton where she remains to this day preserved in her post-war Highland Airways colours.

A second Dragon – G-AIUL – was also stored at the H.A.M. although she was never assembled and remained in her container until she was disposed of in March 1975. Initially, she went to Ian Jones in Southend, but by September 1978 the aircraft had found her way into the hands of John Pierce at Chirk where what remained narrowly escaped a barn fire in 1981. It is understood that this aircraft’s rebuild is a long-term project and as of 2010, she consisted of a forward frame with undercarriage and nose panelling only.



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