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THE DRAGON Rapide may well be my favorite aeroplane. And of Dragon Rapides and their World War II Dominie siblings, my favorite livery is that of G-ADDD, an aircraft of the King’s Flight, and its sibling G-ACTT, restored in these same colors.
G-ADDD was used by Edward Albert Christian George Andrew Patrick David of the House of Windsor, the Prince of Wales, later to be, ever so briefly, King Edward VIII and, for the rest of his life after his 1936 abdication, the Duke of Windsor.
Here’s a flightsim tale of the Rapide and of David, as he was known to his family and friends, to Thelma, Lady Furness—and to her friend Wallis Simpson.
A Near-Scandal at Farnborough
Posting no. 1. Word has it that H.R.H. the Prince of Wales, destined to become Edward VIII, will attend the Farnborough Virtual Fly-In.
The Royal Family’s interest in aviation dates back to 1917 and 1918 when David and his younger brother Prince Albert, respectively, took flights. Albert earned his wings in 1919; David resumed active flying in 1928 with a succession of aeroplanes. It is known that the king doesn’t think much of his sons’ piloting activities.
H.R.H. the Prince of Wales’ De Havilland DH 89A Dragon Rapide has a handsome maroon, blue and white livery displaying the tri-feather emblem of his Royal Title.
The DH 89A is among the most attractive aeroplanes produced by De Havilland. Though a biplane, its fuselage is especially sleek with a particularly airy cockpit and cabin.
The narrow cockpit, by the way, has room for only the pilot. No doubt Major Barker will be at the controls, H.R.H. the Prince of Wales seated aft in the cabin.
Posting no. 2. The Rapide of H.R.H. the Prince of Wales is on its way to Farnborough. As reported earlier, in deference to King George V’s known dislike of his sons’ active piloting, Major Barker is expected to be at the controls of this fetching aeroplane.
But wait! The King has learned that Major Barker is recovering from wounds and has an arm in a sling. Certainly the Major could not be piloting G-ADDD single-handedly.
Therefore, if Major Barker isn’t piloting the Rapide, this appears to leave only one choice: Despite the king’s strong feelings on the matter, H.R.H. the Prince of Wales must be at the controls!
Sticky wicket, that.
We’ll keep you posted with information of what seems no less than a Scandal at Farnborough.
Posting no. 3. The Dragon Rapide is approaching Farnborough. Could H.R.H. the Prince of Wales be defying his father’s wishes?
No. And what a relief!
At the controls of the Rapide is Flight Lieutenant (pronounced “lef-ten-ant,” of course) E. H. Fielden, recently appointed by the King himself as personal pilot for The Prince of Wales.
No doubt Thelma (pronounced TEL-ma, in Spanish fashion) is telling the prince all about her friend Wallis Simpson, whom he should meet.
We’re certainly glad all this is settled, thus resolving what could otherwise have been a Scandal at Farnborough.
Concluding comments. With tongue out-of-cheek, I note that much of this tale is factual. My principal liberty is one of chronology; David met Wallis in November of 1930. Dragon Rapide G-ADDD dates from 1935.
David was indeed an avid pilot. And King George V forbade his sons from piloting their own aeroplanes. Major Barker’s arm was in a sling, and Flight Lieutenant Fielden was appointed by the King to ensure just who would be at the controls of the aeroplane.
And Thelma, Lady Furness, was David’s mistress when she introduced him to Wallis Simpson.
The story goes that, upon hearing her friend was leaving on a trip, Wallis said, “Oh, Thelma, the little man is going to be so lonely.”
“Well, dear,” Thelma said, “you look after him while I’m away.”
And apparently she did. ds
© Dennis Simanaitis, SimanaitisSays.com, 2013