It’s difficult to believe now perhaps, but in the so-called ‘Golden Age of Aviation’, the 1920s and 1930s, Britain and its Empire were world leaders in private aviation.
There were 59 government-subsidized flying clubs, more than a dozen major manufacturers (including de Havilland, Simmonds, G.A.L., Percival, Blackburn, Miles, Airspeed and Comper), and hundreds of owner-pilots, an increasing number of them women. Our aviators established dozens of speed, altitude and long-distance records, and pioneered air routes all over the world.
The aviators were amongst the most famous people of their day. The magazine ‘Flight’ said of one air race “It is no exaggeration to say that millions of people see the race, talk about it for days before it is flown, and discuss it for days after it has become a memory”.
It is a rich and inspiring heritage in which we could, and should, take great pride.
However, the people that created it are nowadays uncelebrated, and it is difficult even to find information about most of them. The average Brit, if asked to name a between-the-wars aviator, might remember ‘Amelia Earhart’ or ‘Charles Lindberg’ (both American, of course) and, just possibly, Amy Johnson. The others – many whose courage and accomplishments at least match theirs – have already been forgotten.
This website is my attempt to bring together some of the stories of the British and Empire aviators who raced, pioneered, flew for fun (and occasionally, profit) during the 7,599 days of relative peace between the two world wars.
It is based round the Aviators, the Air Races they took part in, and the Aeroplanes they flew.
In addition, there are some details of the first women pilots, pioneering flights in the British Empire and flying for pleasure.
Many of the inter-war pilots joined the Air Transport Auxiliary in WWII; what information I have so far is here.
If in doubt, use the Search facility or the Menu at the top, or just start here
If you can contribute - if perhaps you are a relative of one of the aviators, or have researched any of them, I'd be delighted to hear from you. Click on 'Contact Me' from the Menu.
All material on this website - apart from where particular individuals have kindly sent me information, or I use my own stuff - has been derived from publicly-available sources. If you use, or reference, any of this material I probably won't object (or ask for anything in return) but please drop me an email to let me know. Similarly, if I have inadvertently used any copyright material and you object, please let me know and I'll take the appropriate action.
We rightly celebrate our wartime aviation heroes. Perhaps it's time we also celebrated our peacetime aviation heroes.