Aeronautical Society of Great Britain

From Inventing aviation
Jump to navigation Jump to search

The Aeronautical Society of Great Britain (AeSGB) was the first aeronautical society in the world outside of France, when it was founded on 12 Jan. 1866. It is now the world's oldest such society, under the name Royal Aeronautical Society (RAeS). First general meeting was 20 June 1866. The club held its first exhibition in 1868 at the Crystal Palace, London, with 78 entries; Stringfellow's steam engine won a prize. A second aeronautical exhibition was held in 1885 at the Alexandra Palace, London. Yearly annual reports 1866-1892. The Aeronautical Journal replaced the Annual Reports and was published quarterly by the society from January 1897-1917 and monthly from 1918-1922. Aeronautical museum founded 1901. Pursuant to agreement in 1909 with the Aero Club of the United Kingdom and the Aerial League of the British Empire, the Aeronautical Society of Great Britain would be looked upon as the paramount scientific authority on aeronautical matters in Great Britain.

Formed in 1866 by 8th Duke of Argyl, who became its first president, and a group of aerial navigation enthusiasts who, in its first year, included Fred Brearey, a keen advocate of the heavier-than-air principle of navigation; Halton Turner, author of Astra Castra, and Francis Herbert Wenham, who read his paper on "Aerial Locomotion" at the first general meeting. 20 June 1866.[1] In 1868 the society sponsored an aeronautical exhibition at the Crystal Palace.[2]

In 1897 when the Society began publishing the Aeronautical Journal it acknowledged:

During the last few years this Society has been in a somewhat morbid and languishing condition. [... After 1871 ...] the Society kept on in much the same state, but then the numbers gradually declined. Less interest seemed to be taken in the subject, and though meetings for the reading and discussion of papers took place annually members began to realise that they were not getting enough for their money. The reports then became late and irregular, and two years' work was compressed into a report. Most of the leading lights of the Society became less active in their support and it was left to Mr. Brearey to do what he could to keep it going. But the honorary secretary was getting an old man, and was unable to impart much life into the steadily declining institution. After his death i appeared as if the Society must die with him. Not a single member of the original council was left who cared to render active support. Mr. Glaisher, in his 88th year, is the only one now remaining connected with the Society, though his great age debars his taking any energetic action in its cause. The Society still lingered on, till last year, when a few members of the council at last met together, and on November 30th it was decided to endeavor to resuscitate the Society, and see what could be done to place it on a useful footing.[3]

In 1903 Major Baden Baden-Powell, F.R.A.S. was president and he was reported to be the same in 1906 at which time the honorary secretary was Eric Stuart Bruce, M.A. General meetings were held at the Society of Arts, John Street, Adelphi, London. Membership in the first three years, 1866-1868, was 65, 91, and 106; membership in 1906 was some 120. 1909 Jane's reported a flying ground at Dagenham.

1909 Jane's listed only as "Aeronautical Society."

James Means wrote in the Aeronautical Annual, Vol. 1. (1895), pp. 136–137:

The organization has never been a large one, and probably years will pass by before the importance of is twenty-nine years of work will be fully understood and appreciated. Even as the missal painters kept art alive during the Dark Ages, so has this band of men kept aeronautics alive during the years in which their branch of science has been by the many regarded almost as a pseudo-science. The editor wishes to make the fullest acknowledgment of the debt he owes to this society.

The name changed to Royal Aeronautical Society (RAeS) in 1918.

In the year 2010, the Society's offices were at No. 4 Hamilton Place, London W1J 7BQ.


Important early members listed in Crouch, 1981, p. 30:

There were 65 total members at the end of 1867.


  • 2 L'Aeronatique 69 (1903); 8 Aeronautical Journal 46 (1904)
  • 12 Aeronautical Journal 97-99 (1908)
  • 18 Aeronautical Journal 377 (1914)
  • 28 Journal of the RAeS 644-646 (1924)
  • Pocket-Book of Aeronautics 441-442 (Eng. ed., Jan. 1907)
  • 1:5 Aeronautics (NYC) 43 (1907)
  • 1:6 Aeronautics (NYC) 38 (1907)
  • Anderson’s History of Aeronautics (1908)
  • 1909 Jane's All the World's Aircraft 31
  • "Flight" Manual 13 (1910)
  • 1911 Hazell's 488
  • 1913 Aviation Pocket-Book 161 (Jan. 1913)
  • 1917 Aviation Pocket-Book 246
  • 1920 Dir
  • National Union Catalog Pre-1956 Imprints
  • and WorldCat-OCLC
  • Golling, The Impact of Air Power on the British People and Their Government, 1909-1914, p. 8 (1989)


  1. Hallion, 2003, p. 116.
  2. Hallion, 2003, p. 116. "The next year, at the Crystal Palace, Sydenham, the Society sponsored the world's first exhibition of aeronautical machinery, including small engines, models, drawings, and kites."
  3. "The Aeronautical Society", Aeronautical Journal, Vol. 1., No. 1, January 1897, pp. 3–4.

Organization names Aeronautical Society of Great Britain; AeSGB; then Royal Aeronautical Society (RAeS) from 1918.
Entity type
Country Great Britain
City London
Affiliated with
Scope National
Started aero 1866
Ended aero continues under 1918 name, Royal Aeronautical Society (RAeS)
Key people
Wikidata id
  • Address: 53 Victoria Street, Westminster, London S.W. (at least 1904-1912); 11 Adam Street, Adelphi, London W.C. (1912-at least 1916); 7 Albemarle Street, London, W.I. (no later than 1920). Flying ground at Dagenahm (1909).

|Cable address=Didaskolos, Piccy., London (1920) |Phone=1 }}