The Journal of Aeronautical History is a web-based, peer-reviewed journal containing papers of an historical nature, covering all aspects of aerospace.


This year started with something of a hiatus in the supply of material for the Journal of Aeronautical History, but happily this seems to have ended. We now have three excellent papers for the 2014 issue, covering a wide range of topics.

Graham Rood gives us a comprehensive account of the development of aircrew clothing and other survival equipment from the back-to-front cap of 1903, when aircraft travelled much slower than automobiles, to the clothing, protection against acceleration and low pressure, helmet and built-in information display of today. Philip Jarrett, whose contribution to aviation history has recently been recognised by his election as an Honorary Companion of the Society, tells the story of F W Lanchester’s experiments with model gliders and his activities apart from pioneering the understanding of the aerodynamics of wings of finite span. It is a fascinating story, though in some ways quite sad.

Finally, Brian Brinkworth has given us an account of research on spinning up to 1929. At the beginning of manned flight, spinning was barely recognised as a distinctive type of flight path, because aircraft flew so low that when an incipient spin occurred, the aircraft reached the ground before the spin had time to develop. From 1917 to 1929, research using both specially developed wind-tunnel techniques and full-scale flight tests steadily unravelled the complexities of spinning, so that by 1929 it was possible to give designers advice on how to ensure that aircraft would recover from a spin, and were less likely to enter a spin in the first place. Glauert’s role in this research at the Royal Aircraft Establishment, covering the dynamic motion involved as well as the aerodynamics of a spinning aircraft, is striking. This paper does include more equations that is usual in a paper on history, but please do not be deterred by this; the story can easily be followed by those who prefer to skip the mathematics. 

Feedback from readers confirms the value placed on the publication, and I do hope you enjoy the 2014 volume.

Once more, I would like to thank my Editorial Board, who do a sterling job of reviewing papers and advising me on difficult questions. Chris Male and the Publications Department have given constant support through the provision of photographs from the Society’s magnificent collection and by loading the Journal on to the publication website.

Dr C G B (Kit) Mitchell FRAeS

Dr C G Mitchell FRAeS