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National Museum of Australia

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Black and white photograph - Edgar Percival between two assistants

AR00270.001.012

Black and white photograph - Edgar Percival between two assistants

Object information

Physical description

A black and white photograph of four men and a bi-plane on a beach. Edgar Percival is identified standing in between two men infront of the aircraft propeller, with a third man above the propeller pouring fuel into the tank in the top wing. Label attached to back of photograph with inscription: "Commercial Flying in the 1920s Australia. EWP between two assistants".

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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