aircraft database
certified aircraft database

history and gallery
Gull Mk 4
Mew Gull
Vega Gull
Q.6 Petrel
Provost T1

Percival aircraft history, performance and specifications


1932: Capt. Edgar Percival and Lt.-Cdr. E.W.B. Leake form Percival Aircraft.
Percival Aircraft becomes part of the Hunting Group.
Company name changed to Hunting Percival Aircraft.
Company changes name to Hunting Aircraft.
British Aircraft Corp. (BAC) purchases controlling interest.
Cancellation of the TSR.2 leads to closing of Hunting Aircraft.

Edgar Wikner Percival (1897 - 1984)

Of N. Irish parents, he was born in Albury, N.S.W. Maternal grandfather was Pontus Wikner, the Swedish philosopher. Early childhood saw Edgar designing, making and flying gliders. Then he joined the Light Horse for WW1 and in 1916 was in the R.F.C. flying fighters in Billy Bishop's Squadron, in France, after going solo in 20 minutes. He achieved the rank of captain. After service in the Middle East and Greece the War ended and he returned to Australia with two aircraft, to do film work, stunt flying and barnstorming plus charter flights.

In 1921 he surveyed the Melbourne- Brisbane route in an Avro 504; and when pilots licences were issued, he was disappointed that 'Melbourne based' flyers obtained the lower numbers!

All this time he was trying to improve aircraft design and test fly others like the Boulton Paul P9. In 1923 he won Keith Murdock's Melbourne to Geelong race. In 1926 he was catapulted off the U.S.S. Idaho in a Scout Fighters. In 1929 he preferred the larger pond of Europe for flying development and became a test pilot for the Air Ministry. He was well regarded, especially for testing amphibians and Schneider Trophy planes.

His first designed aircraft, in this period, was the Saro Percival Mail Carrier, but he started his
own company at Gravesend, Kent in 1932 and designed many of the air race winners. He flew a Gull from England to Morocco to England (230 miles) in one day in 1935 and, for this he won the Oswald Watt Gold Medal. In the Schlessinger England-South Africa Race in 1936 almost half the entrants were Percival's designs including the winner (a Vega Gull).

Percival's aircraft were noted for their graceful lines and outstanding performance.

Charles Kingsford Smith flew a Percival Gull Four named 'Miss Southern Cross' from England to Australia in the record breaking time of 7 days 4 hours and 44 minutes.

The New Zealand aviatrix, Jean Batten, also used the Percival Gull to fly from England to Australia in October 1936.

Over successive years he cornered a market in training aircraft with his Proctor design which continued during WW2. As his war effort he tried to increase engine performance of fighters with superchargers for Merlins but could not persuade U.K. to sponsor this idea, so he went to the U.S.A. and worked from there. After selling his part of the Company in 1944 he settled in America and became a permanent U.S. citizen "by enactment in 1948 of a Senate Bill" especially for his benefit. In 1951 he went to New Zealand and helped with pioneer aerial fertilizer distribution. Even in 1980 he was working on new ideas in U.K. and New Zealand while writing his memoirs.