Air-Britain 1948-2023 - Celebrating 75 years

Formation of Air-Britain


The announcement of the formation of Air-Britain was posted in “The Aeroplane Spotter” (a Temple Press publication) on June 12 1948, quoting –

“As a result of the discussions which have taken place in the last few months on the question of a “nation-wide aviation organisation” we are now able to announce the formation of AIR-BRITAIN.  Officially to be inaugurated on July 1 1948, Air-Britain has been carefully evolved to take care of the needs of the aviation enthusiast, no matter what his particular interest, and will absorb the most important organizations now in existence in the country, including the British Association of Aviation Clubs, the South-Eastern Aero Club and others.  Already having the backing of important figures in aviation, and also “blessed” by the Air League of the British Empire, which Air-Britain does not seek to rival, this organization is the result of much thought by a committee of eight persons, all of whom have been able to draw on wide experiences of such organizations gained over many years……….”

In the next issue of “The Aeroplane Spotter” dated June 26 1948 (it was fortnightly) the editorial states the following:-


We announce with regret, that THE AEROPLANE SPOTTER will cease publication after the next issue on July 10.  Started during the War to meet an urgent national need, THE AEROPLANE SPOTTER looks back with pride on seven and a half years of useful existence.  Its mission as a separate journal has now been fulfilled, but in THE AEROPLANE, which appears each week, special attention is given to reports on new aircraft……….”

Inside the June 26 1948 edition an entire page was given over to “Air-Britain”, in which it is confirmed that Charles W Cain (Editor of “The Aeroplane Spotter) becomes the first Chairman of Air-Britain, and the other founding members of the Air-Britain Advisory Committee comprised John S Webb (General Secretary), Alan M Gardener (former Deputy Secretary of BAAC), Dennis I Punnett (former member of SEAC Executive Committee and Editor of “Southern Flying”), F Gordon Swanborough (Assistant Editor “The Aeroplane Spotter”), Miss Beryl Vaughan (Ladies’ Representative, formerly Assistant Secretary of BAAC), Roger P Whitehead (Co-ordinator Specialist Staffs) and Derek H Wood (formerly secretary of SEAC and Managing Editor of “Southern Flying”).

Thus, it seems that Air-Britain was formed as an amalgamation of “The Aeroplane Spotter”, “Southern Flying” and any publication issued by the British Association of Aviation Clubs.

The final edition of “The Aeroplane Spotter” was published on July 10 1948.  It was a bumper edition, and in addition to featuring a history of “The Aeroplane Spotter”, at the end of the four page tribute there is a cautionary note, which reads –

“AIR-BRITAIN.  An account of Air-Britain, a new aeronautical organization now in the process of formation, was given in the previous issue of “The Aeroplane Spotter”.  To avoid misunderstanding, Temple Press Ltd., Publishers of “The Aeroplane Spotter”, desire to make clear that while wishing this new organization every success, neither they nor “The Aeroplane Spotter” are in any way connected with AIR-BRITAIN.”  A disclaimer 1948-style!

Following publication of the final issue of “The Aeroplane Spotter”, the first issue of “British Civil Register Bulletin” was dated July 30 1948.  The address was 15 Tavistock Street, Strand, London WC2.  Again published fortnightly, it became “British Civil Register News” with the third edition published on August 27 1948.  The delayed first issue of 1949 was dated January 28 1949, at which time A J Jackson took over as Editor, and the organisation’s address moved to 31 First Avenue, Acton, London W3 – Jack Jackson lived at 29 Olivia Drive, Leigh-on-Sea.

So far as aviation events of the time are concerned, the Berlin Airlift was well underway, and it is perhaps ironic that one of the last reports in “The Aeroplane Spotter” noted that “On Saturday June 26 (1948) the 100,000th visitor to London Airport was presented with the “freedom” of London Airport – for one day.  The visitor was Mrs Cooke of Harlington, who was accompanied by her husband and son Russell Cooke.  Included in the “freedom” was a free flight in a Dragon Rapide of Island Air Services and a tour of the airport.  All three took part in the “freedom” celebrations.”  How times have changed!

The day before, the first helicopter landing at London Airport was made by S-51 G-AJHW piloted by Alan Bristow, landing on the grass between the main runway and disembarkation apron, picking up special passengers from a SABENA scheduled flight.

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Aeronautical events at the time of formation

Air-Britain Evolution

Air-Britain 25th Anniversary Souvenir

Air-Britain Souvenir 81

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