Hosted on Wednesday 18 May in the magnificent setting of Guildhall London and in the presence of HRH Prince Michael of Kent GCVO FRAeS, the Royal Aeronautical Society Gala Banquet was a splendid occasion that marked the Society’s 150th anniversary in fitting style. Close to 580 members, corporate partners and their guests came together to celebrate this milestone in the Society’s history, and network with friends and associates in the aerospace and aviation community.

The event was hosted by the Society’s incoming President, Professor Chris Atkin CEng FRAeS, who reflected in his opening address on the remarkable aeronautical achievements of the past 150 years and the growth of the Society from a small group of hopeful engineers and enthusiasts, to a global organisation of 22,000 members representing all conceivable disciplines connected with aeronautics. Looking to the future, Professor Atkin surmised that “the challenges and technological opportunities for our industry may change beyond recognition but the core business of the Royal Aeronautical Society will still be to convene people – knowledgeable, experienced and enthusiastic people – working together in an environment of independence and impartiality, to deliver these outputs”.

The Society was especially delighted to welcome a table of young male and female graduate engineers hosted by two senior executives from Messier-Dowty-Bugatti. In the words of the Society’s President, this was a prime example of senior decision-makers giving the next generation of professionals “the freedom to experience the richness that our community has to offer” and helping them to “acquire a real breadth of experience with which they can confidently shape the future”.

After dinner the world renowned Aeronautical Engineer, Pilot and Pioneer/Adventurer, Per Lindstrand FRAeS was welcomed to the podium. With the Society's origins in ballooning and an overriding theme of ‘innovative firsts in aerospace’ for our anniversary celebrations, Per Lindstrand could not have been better suited as the guest speaker for this major event in Society’s 150th anniversary calendar. In his after-dinner speech, Per told the tales of his record-breaking trans-oceanic hot air balloon flights, his attempts to be the first to fly a Rozière balloon around the earth with Sir Richard Branson HonCRAeS and the Lindstrand Technologies parachute that landed the Beagle 2 spacecraft on the planet Mars.

The Royal Aeronautical Society is grateful to its lead sponsor, AlixPartners for supporting this event and enabling the Society to host a suitably memorable 150 year celebration. AlixPartners is a leading global business advisory firm of results-oriented professionals who specialise in creating value and restoring performance. The company's aerospace and defence team is deeply rooted in the industry and understands the unique strategic and operating challenges it faces.

The Society would also like to thank Lockheed Martin for sponsoring a pre-dinner Reception in the elegant Old Library and Print Room. Lockheed Martin UK is the UK-based arm of Lockheed Martin Corporation, a global security and aerospace company principally engaged in the research, design, development, manufacture, integration and sustainment of advanced technology systems, products and services. Whilst guests enjoyed their drinks and canapés, a touch of musical tradition and pageantry was provided by the RAF Salon Orchestra, who played by kind permission of the Air Force Board of the Defence Council.

Next year’s Annual Banquet will be held at the InterContinental London Park Lane on Thursday 11 May 2017. Further details will be posted on the RAeS website over the coming weeks and if you have any queries, please email

To view and download photos taken at the 2016 Gala Banquet, please click here.

For information about other Royal Aeronautical Society events, please click here.

The Royal Aeronautical Society 2016 Gala Banquet was sponsored by:





Gail Ward
23 May 2016