Airspeed Ambassador, G-AMAB, Sir Francis Bacon, of BEA flies over Avro 707B, VX790, at the 1953 Royal Aeronautical Society Garden Party at Hatfield on 14 June. RAeS (NAL).

Part 9 of the Royal Aeronautical Society's history. Throughout the 1930s the Royal Aeronautical Society Garden Parties were the first big aeronautical event of the year and also one of the highlights.

The Society’s first Garden Party was held in 1919 at the Handley Page Aerodrome at Cricklewood. The idea originated as a ‘get together’ of members and their friends to celebrate the Society’s 50th anniversary, which it had not been possible to do in 1916. There was no flying at the first Garden Party but aeroplanes were on display and there was an aeronautical atmosphere. The next was not held until 1932 but, from then until 1939, the Society’s Garden Party, usually the first big aeronautical event of the year, was also one of the highlights of the year. There was always a flying programme in which many of the newest aircraft, both civil and military, were seen for the first time in public, flown by the country’s top pilots. Ambassadors, Air Attachés and visitors from all over Europe attended these Garden Parties which were not open to the public but to members and their friends only.

Miss J E Schofield poses in front of a Miles Hawk Speed Six at the 1949 Royal Aeronautical Society Garden Party held at White Waltham Aerodrome on 8 May. RAeS (NAL).

John Profumo, Joint Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Transport and Civil Aviation, and his wife, the actress Valerie Hobson, at the 1956 Royal Aeronautical Society Garden Party at Wisley on 15 July. RAeS (NAL).

The front cover of the 1956 Garden Party programme featured characters representing aircraft types. RAeS (NAL).

Garden Parties were held most years between 1947 and 1958 but there was then a gap until 1966. The flying programme at the Centenary Garden Party held on 19 June 1966 was representative of British aircraft from 1909 to the V/STOL Hawker P1127, the Kestrel. The static display ranged from the Society’s Nash Collection of historic aircraft (1909-1918) to the most advanced aircraft of the day – the BAC TSR-2. A combined Garden Party in 1991, held at the Shuttleworth Collection’s Old Warden Aerodrome, marked the Society’s 125th anniversary and the SBAC’s (now ADS) 75th anniversary while, in 1993, the Society held a Garden Party at the Brooklands Museum in conjunction with the Guild of Air Pilots and Air Navigators (now The Honourable Company of Air Pilots). The Society celebrated the 100th anniversary of the Wright brothers’ first flight by returning to Old Warden for a Garden Party and sunset flying display in June 2003 and again in 2004 and then in 2008 to celebrate the 100th anniversary of British aviation.


6 September 2016