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National Museum of Australia

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Black and white photograph - Edgar Percival and Douglas Corrigan at Luton 1937.


Black and white photograph - Edgar Percival and Douglas Corrigan at Luton 1937.

Object information


The story written on a piece of paper attached to the back of the photograph reads: In 1937 an American, Douglas Corrigan, took off in a single-engine aircraft from New York, intending to fly West to San Francisco (he said) but by an 'intended' mistake in navigation flew East into Luton (England) anf for this remarkable feat was presented by Edgar Percival with a 'Luton straw hat'! Thereafter he was called 'wrong-way Corrigan'.

Physical description

Black and white photograph depicting Edgar Percival and Douglas Corrigan at Luton in 1937. Stamped on back copyright to 'Planet News'.

Statement of significance

The Dr Robert C Percival collection consists of hundreds of objects recording the career of Edgar W Percival and his aircraft manufacturing companies, between 1897 and 1984. Items include material from Percival's military service in the AIF and RFC from 1915 to 1918; photographs, flying helmet and gloves from his commercial flying activities in Australia during the 1920s; photographs and documents recording his design and manufacturing work with Percival Aircraft Company in England during the 1930s and 1940s; trophies, certificates and medals awarded to Percival; travel documents, photographs and correspondence related to Percival's aircraft design and manufacturing work during the 1950s and 1960s; and documents and audio recordings made by Edgar Percival and his younger brother Robert Percival documenting the achievements and life story of Percival's aviation career.

Edgar Wikner Percival was born in Albury on 23 February 1897. He was inventive and mechanically minded from an early age, working with his father, William Percival, on their property, Clarendon Park, at Richmond, New South Wales. While Percival studied engineering at Sydney Technical College and was apprentice to a marine engineering firm in Sydney, he was able to watch and fly with William (Bill) Hart, the first qualified pilot in Australia, when he moved his aviation school operations from Penrith to Ham Common, now Richmond Aerodrome, a short distance from Clarendon Park. In 1915, Percival joined the AIF, lying about his age to pursue a commission with the Royal Flying Corps which he achieved in 1917. After the war, Percival returned to Australia and undertook a variety of commercial flying activies, including aerial photography, map-making, geological surveying, joyflights and advertising. In 1929, Percival travelled to England hoping to sell one of his aircraft designs to an English manufacturer, but without success. Instead, Percival founded his own company, Percival Aircraft Company, to design and manufacture Great Britain?s first low-wing cantilevered monoplane, the Gull. Percival won many competitions and awards flying his own aircraft, and the Gulls quickly established a reputation for high performance, attracting the era's most daring pilots.

Object information

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