How a pricey restaurant bill led an actor to start an airline with a Dragon Rapide

The very fine restoration of a de Havilland Dragon Rapide also resurrected a British airline name from the past. We tracked down the man who ran the original Scillonia Airways, and talked to one of the leading lights in the modern operation of the same name

Scillonia Airways had more than a little of the inter-war spirit. Back then, one could buy some surplus aircraft, set up an airline and try and make a go of it. Bryan Neely did exactly that. He even went for Thirties-era equipment, namely a set of venerable de Havilland Dragon Rapides.

They plied their trade in earnest, but even after Neely’s operation closed the Scillonia Airways name was not gone forever. A few years ago it was revived, with nostalgia as its business and, what’s more, one of the original concern’s Rapides as its equipment.

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