Aviation, aerospace and spaceflight books - the NAL has it all!

After Tim Robinson’s trip to the National Aerospace Library (aka #avgeek central) last December, were sent lots of questions about the NAL. TONY PILMER sets out to answer some of them.

@AvWeekRupa Very cool! When can I go there? :) & @WarbirdTails Do you have to join/pre book to visit?

We are open Tuesday to Friday 10am to 4pm. You don’t need to be a member, just pop in. Saying that, if you let us know what you are looking for, we can have a good rummage before you arrive and you will have something waiting – hublibrary@aerosociety.com. If you want to know what we have on the shelves, search our catalogue.


Among the extensive holdings - the Imperial Airways Gazette - a in-house magazine.

@geoffrey_payne Love that shelving :))

Only the finest Ikea shelving will do (other Scandinavian furniture available). We often do tours and we find people still browsing over two hours after the tour finishes!


Not purely books - a Cody kite replica hovers over the shelves at the NAL.

@4tis Is it built on the old RAE collection? –

We are built on the RAE collection. Not only have we got the material that the Society collected for 150 years but also material that had been donated by members and others over the years – like B. F .S Baden-Powell, the Short Brothers and, more recently, K. G. Wilkinson. We also have a other collections of unbuilt aircraft project designs and ‘secret’ wartime Ministry of Aircraft Production Reports . Saying that, we’ve just been given some amazing material that was part of the old Royal Aircraft Establishment Historic Books Library. Some of our favourites including a book on the German Air Industry written by a man with influence in the Nazi Party containing a UK Air Ministry report on the book Some of them even have the rules and regulations for using the WW1 RAE library (then were known as the RAF (Royal Aircraft Factory) library, until the more famous RAF was born).


Before computer simulations, this wall mounted terrain was used to train military pilots by skimming a moving camera over the model.

@UmarMSheikh can we use the library to take out books?

Yes, RAeS members can borrow a couple of post-1945 books. We can even put them in the post…. as long as you are happy to pay for the postage. You can search and order through our catalogue.

Rare letter from the Wright Brothers, 1904.

@genesislabels @realmandempire Looks like an absolute treasure trove!

It’s a pleasure to work here – every day you open another cupboard and find new gems – there are hundreds of potential dissertations and PhD theses just sitting here, waiting to be written.


Sometimes it can be difficult to leave...

@Airheadsfly Would love a peek in there! Some more pics maybe?

Your wish is our command. You can also see nearly 10,000 aero photos and posters on our prints and posters website and even buy prints and plus iPhone covers, puzzles and other stuff with our photos on!

Control column from the first Gloster Javelin prototype.

@Tokenpom Is there a Loo?

All modern luxuries – even a café at the end of the corridor that serves Starbucks Coffee!


British Ministry of Production intelligence report on the Fokker DrI from March 1918.

@Psy_Historian Any chance of twitter feed from NAL at Farnborough? Great collections, fantastic staff, beautiful site.

Your wish is our command - we’ll be tweeting on @AeroSociety at #AeroLib, plus we blog. BTW, I do like the comment about the staff!


Horace Short's notebook of sketches of the Wright Flyer's visit to France in 1909 was the first technical description of this breakthrough technology.

@RAeSTimR What happens if someone asks you a very difficult question at #avgeek central….. ?

Ask Brian! Brian, our Chief Librarian, has been helping to find answers to aero questions for over 30 years. If he can’t help [using the stuff at #avgeek central], nobody can! So, if you want to find something on your chosen aero topic, set us a challenge!

Chief Librarian Brian Riddle - the man with the answers to (almost) any aeronautical research question!

5 February 2015