The DH 53 was the first light aircraft design by the de Havilland Company. Two examples were flown in the 1923 Trials at Lympne, UK powered by Douglas motorcycle engines. Two further examples were exported to Australia in 1924 and were flown at the Light Aeroplane Competition at Essendon in Melbourne. These aircraft carried the civil registration letters G-AUAC (later VH-UAC) and G-AUAD (later VH-UAD). A third example was imported and was later used by Dr R.J Coto to fly from Wyndham to Perth in 1937. Coto had rebuilt the aircraft which he named 'Icarus' from a wreck using a 36 horsepower Aeronca engine. His flight took six days with just over 30 hours flying time which was apparently a world record distance for a light aircraft at the time.
Several DH 53 machines were used by the Royal Air Force including two examples which were modified to be launched and recovered from an airship (R33) in flight. The RAF machines were later sold and appeared on the UK civil register.