G-AFAA is the 1937 E3H version of the Mew Gull—built to be Edgar Percival's own ride. The E3H was the fastest of the factory-built Mew Gulls—setting the non-handicap speed mark in the 1937 King's Cup (see photo below). However, Jack Cross engineered changes in Alex Henshaw's legendary Mew (G-AEXF) to enable it to win the 1938 Kings Cup and set the London-Cape Town record in 1939. Note the distinctive aerodynamic low-cut profile of G-AEXF. On the other hand, the stock G-AFAA allows for a taller pilot who wants to wear a suit, a tie, and a proper hat—as did Percival in his racing career (photo).
Percival himself was an interesting fellow. Born in Albury, Australia (later of Uiver fame), he served in the Royal Flying Corps, alongside Billy Bishop, during WWI. After the war, he flew professionally in Australia—both commercially and competitively—and then moved to England as an Air Ministry test pilot, notably for Schneider Trophy aircraft.
In 1934 he started his own aircraft company at Gravesend, Kent. His Gull, and then the Vega Gull, were much respected fast long-distance touring aircraft. Charles Kingsford Smith flew a Percival Gull in his record-setting England-Australia flight. And it was in Gulls that Percival, C.W.A. Scott, Amy Mollison, and Jean Batten set several long-distance-speed records. The military training version of the Gull, the Percival Proctor, proved a success.
The racing Mew Gull E1 was first flown in 1934 and it was much refined for the second version E2H in 1936. The new model was quickly recognized as England's fastest competition aircraft, setting the pace in any number of contests. Mew pilots dominated the Kings's Cup during both 1937 and 1938 and British light aircraft racing during those pre-war years. It has been said that only the Mew Gull compared with the Spitfire for harmony of controls and flying balance. Powered by a 205hp Gipsy six, it relied on aerodynamics and lightweight design, rather than brute power, for its speed.
It's going to be a cramped, bouncy, and thrilling ride to Melbourne.