Dragon G-AEMH

De Havilland D.H.89A Dragon Rapide – c/n 6336

With E.A.F.S./Channel from Jun 1952 to Feb 1972

Dragon Rapide Mike Hotel was delivered to her first owner in August 1936. However, not long afterwards she came extremely close to being exported to Spain to serve with the Nationalist forces although thankfully, this was prevented from happening at the very last moment by the British authorities. Instead she remained in the U.K. and was pressed into RAF service during March 1940. Needless to say, throughout her wartime service she suffered a couple of minor mishaps, one of which resulted in a degree of superficial damage after having made a forced landing near Warrington in 1941, although she was quickly repaired and returned to service. Having survived the war, she was then sent to 5 MU at Kemble from where she would be sold off of to L.E.H. Charters in 1947.

However, as far as E.A.F.S.’ Dragon Rapide fleet was concerned, she was something of a latecomer and it wasn’t until June 1952 that she finally found herself on the books of this airline, having previously been stored at Southend for a considerable amount of time prior to her purchase. Unlike the other Rapides (former RAF Dominies) that were owned by the airline, she required no conversion work and after a short period of maintenance she was put to work flying the E.A.F.S. feeder route between Southend, Shoreham and Jersey alongside fellow Rapides JZ and RN. Then in 1953, the all new Southend – Shoreham – Le Bourget service started, although all of the Rapides would ultimately take turns flying this and the other two popular routes from Southend to Jersey and Ostend.

More route additions to the E.A.F.S. schedule during 1954 also saw Mike Hotel flying to Ipswich, Calais, Le Bourget, Guernsey and on occasion Alderney plus the previously established routes. However, with the arrival of Channel’s D.H.104 Doves during 1955, the Dragon fleet found itself being gradually reduced in size and while MH continued to soldier on, her season was brought to a rather abrupt close on the 10th of September when an engine problem on a trip from Ipswich saw her making an emergency landing at Southend. Sufficed to say, she was back in the air by March 26th 1956, making a test flight at SEN although from this point forward, this Rapide would for the most find herself either being relegated to the feeder routes between Southend and Ipswich or bringing in passengers for onward flights to the Channel Islands and the Continent that were now being primarily flown by the company’s Doves. Yet despite such a turn of events, MH would still carry out the odd charter such a flight to Amsterdam on March 29th.

Somewhat inevitably, the Dragons started to be replaced by more modern equipment on E.A.F.S.’/Channel’s more prestigious routes and as a consequence, Mike Hotel found herself being confined to flying the Ipswich – Southend – Rochester feeder route for the rest of her operational life, this lasting up until the autumn of 1959. With her C.o.A. due to expire in April 1960, she never returned to service and in July she was ferried to Ipswich where she was put into storage. However by the end of 1962, the re-branded Channel Airways had ceased operating from this airport and as a result, the fuselage was returned to Southend by road. By the time Channel collapsed in February 1972 she was in a considerable state of disrepair, with much of her fabric covering now in tatters.

All was not lost however and by August 1972, Channel’s receivers found Mike Hotel a new home at Burnham-on-Crouch in Essex where what remained of her was once again put into storage. Due no doubt to her poor condition, the decision was eventually taken to cancel her registration and break her for parts with some of them going to Chirk to help with the restoration of former H.A.M. resident, Dragon G-AIUL. However, a barn fire unfortunately resulted in many these parts (which consisted of a considerable portion of the lower fuselage) being destroyed, although a few ancillary items are rumoured to have survived the conflagration.

History of G-AEMH

8/36 to 11/38

Personal Airways, Croydon

11/38 to 3/40

North Eastern Airways

3/40 to 3/47

Royal Air Force as X9387 (Impressed)

3/47 to 7/47

L.E. Hamson Air Charter Ltd as G-AEMH

7/47 to 8/48

Air Charter Experts later TFR to Manx Air Charters, Ronaldsway

8/48 to 3/49

L.E.H. Air Charter

3/49 to 6/52

George Clifton

6/52 to 2/72

E.A.F.S./Channel Airways (exchanged for Auster G-AIGL)

2/72 to 8/72

Kenneth R. Cork (Receiver)

8/72 to 5/81

Donated to Ian Jones


Broken for parts, most of which were destroyed in a barn fire at Chirk circa May 1981


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