THE POLITICS OF C. G. GREY

DATAFILE

C. G. Grey remains a towering figure in UK aviation history, but his politics, controversial even during his heyday, mark a troubling aspect of his legacy. His views on race, and his admiration of fascist and Nazi regimes, were hardly unique in the interwar period, and yet Grey increasingly found himself on the wrong side of important issues. So much so that it brought his pioneering editorship of The Aeroplane to an end just before the Second World War.

Grey was never afraid of involving himself, or The Aeroplane, in politics and, while he was editor, had no compunction in using the journal’s voice to influence policy and public opinion. It was a voice that was fiercely patriotic but perpetually suspicious of the British government, and not afraid to praise achievement by some — but by no means all — other nations.

The motoring journalist Bill Boddy suggested Grey, “Might be termed a right wing Liberal”. He wrote, “Grey realised that whereas even intellectual young men might have little time for political papers, they could be induced to take in such matters if the information was mingled with that about aeroplanes”. The historian Michele Haapamäki said of Grey that he was, “A politicking professional who saw no tension between his role as a journalist and agitating at the highest level of the Air Ministry”. While Flight tended to concentrate on technical matters, it was Grey’s fearlessness in bringing The Aeroplane into the political sphere that ensured its status in the early years.

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