John Sessions’ Historic Flight Foundation (HFF), based at Paine Field to the north of Seattle, has added airworthy de Havilland DH89A Dragon Rapide N683DH to its collection. Originally delivered to the RAF in 1944 as Dominie NR683, the aircraft was civilianised by de Havilland in 1946. Registered G-AHXW, it served with British European Airways until 1953. It was then sold to Fairey Aviation at White Waltham, who used it on survey work. In 1968 the machine was acquired by GRM Airwork at Staverton.
Three years later it was sold in the USA, being shipped via Rotterdam, and was registered N683DH in a nod to its original RAF serial. The Rapide was flown for a while in a wartime RAF camouflage scheme before being donated to the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA)Museum in 1974. Last flown in 1975, and having clocked up more than 8,000 hours during the previous three decades, N683DH was grounded and subsequently gave up its engines to be used in Tom Wathen’s flyable DH88 Comet replica.
Sold by the EAA in 1997 and acquired by Bud Field, it was sent for rebuild with Russ Harmuth at Calaveras County Airport in California. Replacement engines were sourced in the UK and rebuilt by Vintech at Little Gransden. By the time work was completed in 2010, Field had sadly passed away. The Rapide was repainted into its original markings as G-AHXW, and flew again during May 2010, being operated that summer before being placed in flyable storage in August 2010. As of late January it was at Yolo County airport near Sacramento awaiting a ferry flight to Paine Field.