Hatfield Branch

The Hatfield branch organises 9 lectures every year from September together with various visits and trips. All main society members in the local area are automatically branch members, however anyone is free to join as a specific branch member for which there is no annual fee.

You need to register your interest with the Chairman then you will receive the monthly Newsletter which will keep you informed of all events.

Any visitor, whether member or not is welcome to attend any of the lectures.

Contact Details:

President: Mike Ramsden

Chairman: Maurice James

Secretary: Cameron Stewart

Contact: Maurice James

Email: jamesaeroltd@yahoo.co.uk

Tel: 07958 775441

Branch Profile:

The Hatfield Branch was inaugurated in March 1939 with the laudable aims of “encouraging the acquisition of aeronautical knowledge by the reading of papers, by visiting engineering and other places of interest and by establishing friendly intercourse among the members.”

In 1994, when BAe finally closed its doors of the onetime de Havilland Aircraft Company, most members, and certainly the committee, thought that the Branch would be lucky to survive another decade. The makeup of the membership was mostly from the old factory that saw such legends created as the Tiger Moth, Mosquito, DH108, Comet, Trident, 125, 146 and all Airbus wings from the A300 to the A340. As the years rolled by, there seemed little to look forward to beyond a slow decline.

Thankfully we were all wrong and didn’t foresee that the secret of continued success lay with strong links with the local University of Hertfordshire at Hatfield. The University has been growing steadily, on land originally gifted by the de Havilland Company, and now has more than 25,000 students, of which approximately 1,500 are studying some form of engineering. Huge strides have been made in firmingup the bond and, with the enthusiastic help of Professor Reza Sotudeh (Head of the School of Engineering), real progress has been made, especially into the student population itself. The reason for this change is solely because of the efforts of a quartet of students who were coerced on to the committee. As a result of this, the communication with the students of the University improved in leaps and bounds. This is mainly because of the high communication skill level of the young who Twitter and Facebook their messages.

The change has been remarkably tangible too, as shown be the resurrection of the students lecture competition which has proved to be a popular evening. This year’s competition was particularly inspiring with competent talks from all five finalists who spoke on future designs for aircraft, a rocket car, UAVs, counter stealth and the Wright brothers. It was an almost impossible task for the judging committee, however, the winner chosen was Mukti Limbu who hails from Katmandu and who spoke on UAVs. He was a deserved winner of the prize kindly sponsored by Goodrich Electrical Power Systems and presented by John Graham who is its Chief Systems Engineer.

The Branch is already involved in three other student prizes namely the Bishop Award for the final year design project and the John Cunningham and John Houlder flying scholarships for those students taking flying options in their degree. The latter two are funded by the Geoffrey de Havilland Flying Foundation. The Branch is already working on the introduction of two or three new prizes and the favoured topics to date are rocketry, flight test and a simulator project.

It is truly refreshing to see that, despite the loss of our major sponsor, the Society numbers have actually grown and the average lecture attendance is around 60 with the record exceeding 120.

This year’s Sir Geoffrey de Havilland lecture was the usual high-profile event when Captain David Evans of Qantas came to speak on the, now famous, A380 incident.

The committee, chaired by Dave Philpott and guided by our President Mike Ramsden, is pushing forward with an aggressive agenda of further expansion by making contact with as many aerospace companies in the area as possible and by visiting other establishments such as the local ATCs to publicise our lecture programme.

In conclusion, therefore, we are encouraged by the clear benefits brought about by the close co-operation between the Branch and the University of Hertfordshire and we would like to think that the benefits are mutual as evidenced by the numerous Hatfield Branch student awards for excellence in aeronautics. We hope we are still meeting those laudable aims laid down in 1939.