Royal Aeronautical Society Opens Online Film Archive

The vault of one-of-a-kind video clips offers a glimpse into aviation history.

Royal Aeronautical Society
The newly released film archive includes films on air transportation in the 1920s and 30s.Courtesy Royal Aeronautical Society

Though firmly rooted in aviation’s earliest days—it was founded in 1866—the Royal Aeronautical Society advances firmly into the future on a number of fronts. One of the most recent of these missions has been the opening of the society’s new National Aerospace Library Film Archive.

Though the library itself—housed near the Farnborough airport in the UK—remains closed at present because of the coronavirus restrictions, members and aviation enthusiasts globally can reach into its video catalog easily through this source. A series of playlists offers a guided tour through the available selections, and the topics hail from early days of aviation, and include rotorcraft, air transport, and special interest areas.

One example is the series of short films prepared for Donald W. Douglas, founder of Douglas Aircraft Company, in anticipation of his arrival in the UK in May 1935 to deliver the 23rd annual Wilber Wright Memorial Lecture to the Royal Aeronautical Society on the topic of “The Development and Reliability of the Modern Multi-Engine Air Liner.” The first of these is a 20-minute black-and-white silent film that begins with film footage of Fokker single- and tri-motored aircraft, including the Fokker F.VII “Josephine Ford” Byrd Arctic Expedition, and the 1928 Pan American Airways US/Cuban Mail Delivery Fokker F-10 “De Luxe.” Others cover more examples of 1920s and 30s vintage “Air Transport in America.”

The film archive adds to the resources found online from the RAeS, including its podcast archive, lecture series, and a wide assortment of print materials and images.

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