at Goodwood Revival Auction

- 1934 De Havilland DH84 Dragon cabin biplane comes to open auction market for the first time ever

- One of just five airworthy and operational examples in the world

- The property of Sir Torquil Norman's Norman Aeroplane Trust

- Expected to realise in excess of £200,000

On September 9, Bonhams is to offer Sir Torquil Norman's gloriously evocative twin-engined 1934 De Havilland DH84 Dragon cabin biplane as one of the stars of its 16th annual Goodwood Revival Meeting Sale.

This iconic aircraft is one of only five of its type still flying anywhere in the world, and Sir Torquil had it completely restored upon acquisition nearly twenty years ago. The De Havilland DH84 Dragon originated in the early 1930s when British airline pioneer Edward Hillman was operating the single-engine DH83 Fox Moth, and wanted de Havilland to design a twin-engine 'big sister' to fly from the south of England to Paris as economically as possible. Simultaneously - from a very different angle - the Iraqi Air Force had approached De Havilland seeking an aircraft suitable for patrol and communication flying. So the Dragon was hatched.

Hillman Airways received its first DH84 Dragon in 1932. It cost £2,795 and carried six to eight people on scheduled flights from Romford, Essex, to Paris Le Bourget.

Sir Torquil Norman's DH84 Dragon to be offered by Bonhams at the Goodwood Revival Meeting Sale is UK-registered 'G-ECAN'. It dates from the Second World War era, having been built originally by De Havilland Australia in their plant at Bankstown Airport, Sydney, in 1943. It is construction number '2048' and served in the RAAF as a navigational training aircraft, serial 'A34-59' before being converted post-war to civilian standard. It was operated under Australian civil registrations 'VH-AQU' and later 'VH-DCX' for some time as a Flying Doctor Medical Service machine, based at Alice Springs.

It passed subsequently into the Marshall Airways collection at Bankstown Airport, before being acquired by Sir Torquil at the turn of the century and being painstakingly restored to flying condition by respected specialists Cliff Lovell, Henry Labouchere and Hants Light Plane Services of Chilbolton, Hampshire. It was completed in DH84 Mark II specification, and since completion has become a familiar sight at air shows and Vintage fly-ins around the UK - having now completed some 450 flying hours throughout Europe.

The DH84 Dragon is regarded as the spark which triggered Sir Torquil Norman's late engineer brother - Desmond - to create his highly successful Britten-Norman Islander twin-engined near-equivalent design, of which nearly 1300 have now been produced since 1965, compared to 115 UK-built Dragons followed by a further 87 produced in Australia.

Sir Torquil Norman is an old Etonian graduate of Harvard and Trinity College, Cambridge who gained his pilot's licence aged only 18 and completed National Service in the Fleet Air Arm. He subsequently flew his own Piper Comanche, flew in No. 601 Squadron RAAF, and took up skydiving, a passion shared by his wife, Anne.

A committed philanthropist and supporter of the arts, he bought the derelict Roundhouse venue in Chalk Farm for £3 million in 1996 "on impulse". As founder and chairman of the Roundhouse Trust he then raised £27 million from public and private sources, including a significant contribution of his own personal funds, to restore the crumbling Victorian former railway repair shed, which had been a major arts venue in the 1960s and '70s.

He was instrumental in the restored Roundhouse reopening in June 2006 as a 1,700 seat performance space. Sir Torquil, was knighted in 2007 for services to the arts and to disadvantaged young people. A longtime collector of historic aircraft, he is a hugely respected figure within the Vintage aircraft community - and his gorgeously evocative De Havilland DH84 Dragon is sure to attract tremendous interest when offered by Bonhams in the September Goodwood Revival Sale.

James Knight, Group Motoring Chairman at Bonhams commented, "The DH 84 was the executive jet of its day. Its ability to cover great distances with at least six passengers and land almost anywhere ensured it was the must have aircraft of the period – for personal, commercial and military use. In fact, weather permitting, we hope to have the Dragon on view at Goodwood. As you can imagine, it is beautifully presented, harking back to the glory days of aviation, and ready to be operated by the next enthusiast owner."


Bonhams, founded in 1793, is one of the world's largest auctioneers of fine art and antiques. Today, the auction house offers more sales than any of its rivals. The main salerooms are in London, New York and Hong Kong. Sales are also held in the UK in Knightsbridge and Edinburgh; in the US, in San Francisco and Los Angeles; in Europe, in Paris and Stuttgart and in Sydney, Australia. Bonhams also has a worldwide network of offices and regional representatives in 25 countries offering sales advice and valuation services in 60 specialist areas. For a full listing of forthcoming sales, plus details of Bonhams specialist departments, please visit

  1. James Knight
    101 New Bond Street
    London, United Kingdom W1S 1SR
    Work +44 20 7447 7440
    FaxFax: +44 20 7447 7438

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