Author Topic: Railway Air Services Survivors  (Read 538 times)

Lofty

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Railway Air Services Survivors
« on: March 29, 2020, 11:59:19 AM »
This post is a copy of an article which was originally published in the Summer 2019 issue of the Shoreham Airport Society Magazine (Volume 26 issue 2).

Members of the society receive a copy of the magazine every quarter.  In addition, there are monthly talks/meetings held at the airport throughout the year, plus an annual coach outing to a major aviation museum or event.
The current subscription rate is just £12 per annum.


Railway Air Services Survivors.

When you look at old photographs and postcards of Shoreham Airport, do you ever wonder what happened to the aeroplanes that are featured in them ?
This article focuses on two aeroplanes that were regular visitors to the airport in the 1930s and would have appeared in many photos taken at the time.  Indeed, both of the illustrations included here were photographed at Shoreham Airport, and were taken from original 1930s postcards.
Both of the planes featured were initially operated by Railway Air Services between 1935 and 1939.

The single aeroplane depicted standing on the apron is a DH Dragon 2, registered G-ADDI.  This plane was first registered and delivered to Railway Air Services in March 1935 and was named ‘City of Cardiff’
On 6th March 1938 the plane was renamed as ‘Island Maid’, before it launched a new Shoreham-Ryde-Southampton service on the next day.  This is the name that appears in the photograph.
In January 1939 the aircraft changed hands and was acquired by Great Western & Southern Air Lines, who based it at St Just (Lands End) Airport.
The following 30 years found it having a number of different owners, the most notably being Chrisair who re-painted it in a stunning red and white livery and operated it from April 1963 to November 1970 for joy-rides, parachuting and air displays etc.
In February 1971 the plane was re-registered as N34DH and flown to Rotterdam from where it was shipped by sea to the Perlitch Transport Museum at Morgan Hill, California, USA.
In May 1981 the plane was acquired from the museum by American aviator Mike Kimbrell who restored it to flying condition, this work being completed in May 1984.
Today the plane is still flying, and in the red and white Chrisair colours, and is based at Mr Kimbrell’s private airstrip at Oakville, Washington State, USA.

The two aeroplanes pictured in front of the hangars are a pair of DH89A Dragon Rapides.   Both of these were new when they joined the Railway Air Services fleet together in February 1935.
The one nearest the camera is G-ACPR ‘City of Birmingham’.   This particular aircraft was later damaged beyond repair when it was force landed and overturned during a snowstorm at Burford, Shropshire in February 1940.
The plane nearest the hangar is G-ACPP ‘City of Bristol’, and this is the aircraft that we are interested in.  After Railway Air Services, this plane joined the Great Western & Southern Air Lines (Shoreham) fleet in January 1939, and continued to have a number of various operators until May 1961 when it was transported to Canada.
In Canada, now re-registered as CF-PTK, it was originally intended to convert it to floatplane operation.   This scheme was abandoned, and the aeroplane changed hands a couple of times more before ending up at the Reynolds-Alberta Museum at Wetaskiwin, Alberta, in January 2002.   The plane was then subjected to a lengthy and comprehensive rebuild which was eventually completed in August 2012.
Today, this aeroplane can be seen at the museum, resplendent in the original Railway Air Services colours and still named ‘City of Bristol’.

Footnote:-
There is a charming video of the Dragon flying at its current home on https://vimeo.com/97013675

« Last Edit: March 29, 2020, 12:10:02 PM by Lofty »
Lofty

Doug Attrell

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Re: Railway Air Services Survivors
« Reply #1 on: March 30, 2020, 09:17:59 AM »
Interesting article Lofty. Here's a photo of a Dragon I took at Popham airfield on New Year's Day back in 2010.
This one was built in 1943 by DH Australia for the RAAF. It was later converted to civilian standards & flew for Marshall Airways from September 1946 & used for air ambulance, charter and passenger charter flights. It was restored in the 90's following an accident before being imported into the UK in 2001. At the time of my photo it was in immaculate Railway Air Services livery with the previously unissued period registration G-ECAN. I'm not sure where it is now or if it's still airworthy.


Lofty

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Re: Railway Air Services Survivors
« Reply #2 on: March 30, 2020, 12:17:06 PM »
Hello Doug, nice photo !
In answer to your query, as far as I can make out your Dragon G-ECAN is still current.
The registered owner is the Norman Aeroplane Trust at Cheltenham. (Sir Torquil Norman).
The aeroplane is based at Rendcomb, a civil private airfield near Cirencester in Gloucestershire.

I have attached below another photo of Rapide 'City of Bristol' which is discussed in my article above.  This photo was taken at Shoreham.
« Last Edit: March 30, 2020, 12:21:00 PM by Lofty »
Lofty

Nelson

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Re: Railway Air Services Survivors
« Reply #3 on: March 31, 2020, 06:46:04 AM »
Some interesting updates there guys, than you.

Doug Attrell

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Re: Railway Air Services Survivors
« Reply #4 on: March 31, 2020, 09:01:07 AM »
Some interesting updates there guys, than you.
Thanks to you & Spinalman for keeping this forum running. ;)

Thanks for the information Lofty. I found another photo of G-ECAN. This one was taken at Sywell in 2014.

johnjohn

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Re: Railway Air Services Survivors
« Reply #5 on: June 10, 2020, 07:25:30 PM »
I can remember seeing Dragon Rapides at Shoreham airport in the livery of Sabena and KLM at the begining of the war when Croydon ( London ) airport was closed to commercial flights
Johnjohn

Lofty

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Re: Railway Air Services Survivors
« Reply #6 on: July 21, 2020, 08:04:24 PM »
I have just come across this photo (attached below) of the ex-Railway Air Services Dragon G-ADDI as described in the opening post above.
It is depicted in the colour scheme that it wore from 1963 to 1971 before it was transferred to the USA.

These are the colours that it is still in today, as can be seen in the video of it flying at its present home.

Link to the video - https://vimeo.com/97013675
Lofty

johnjohn

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Re: Railway Air Services Survivors
« Reply #7 on: July 25, 2020, 02:41:58 PM »
Not Railway Air Services but Ferry Air Services. I was reminded that once ( In the olden days when transporting a car across the channel involved a heavy lift crane,no RoRo then !) I flew across the channel accompanied by my Ford Anglia.
We flew from Hurn to Cherbourg in a Sllver City Bristol B170 Freighter together with three other cars and six or seven other passengers.
A very noisy and bumpy trip and I swear that there was a draft coming from the window. The loading was done by ground staff who drove it into the front of the aircraft
Looking on the internet I find that this particulat plane had a mishap in Guernsey and was written off two years later.
Johnjohn