Historic

Key.Aero leads the way in the field of aviation history and heritage. Enjoy an outstanding mix of restoration and warbird features, fascinating articles on aviation history produced by some of the best writers in the business and in-depth and entertaining reports on all historic aircraft. Broad coverage spans the earliest years of flight through to the Cold War, encompassing countless aircraft types and their aerial achievements, plus Key.Aero offers the very latest historical aviation news.

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Fresh livery for preserved Spanish Phantom 

'Titanes Phorever' jet unveiled at Torrejon Air Base

New colours for Australian Hunter

Former Royal Singaporean Air Force (RSAF) Hawker Hunter F.74S 546 was unveiled to the public on October 26, 2022 during a special ceremony at its Hunter Warbirds Aviation Centre home, Scone, New South Wales, Australia, wearing Royal Air Force (RAF) colours following an extensive 100-day restoration.

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Who was pioneering aviator Oscar Garden?

Pioneering aviator Oscar Garden is best remembered for his astonishing 18-day flight in a Gipsy Moth, travelling from London to Australia in 1930. In the years that followed, the New Zealander’s love of flying did not abate. Here his daughter Mary Garden details his flying boat adventures before and during World War Two…

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Lake Windermere's incredible Waterbird

Newly airborne from Lake Windermere this summer, the replica of the unique Waterbird represents a tremendous accomplishment — and a delightful way to recall the achievements of the 1911 original

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How good was the Sopwith Camel in battle?

Sopwith’s most famous fighter earned its reputation in hard fought aerial combats. Andrew Thomas documents the wartime use of the legendary biplane

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What is it like to own and fly a North American L-17 Navion?

From the same same stable as the legendary P-51 Mustang, the North American L-17 Navion offers both a user-friendly and enjoyably wild ride, as Dave Unwin discovered

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Is this the strangest place to see a Hawker Hunter?

After undergoing an extensive restoration, the first production Hawker Hunter F.1 WT555 has been moved to a new home, but not in a museum as you might expect. Key.Aero recounts the iconic aircraft’s story

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Short Sperrin – The Forgotten V Bomber

In 1946, amid escalating tension between East and West, Britain embarked on a programme of nuclear jet bomber development, including the stopgap Short Sperrin, as Pete London explains...

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Lancaster Return to Flight

The return to flight of a UK-based Avro Lancaster is the stuff that dreams are made of. FlyPast's Steve Beebee visited the Lincolnshire Aviation Heritage Centre where fantasy is rapidly becoming reality…

Mustang engine reaches Sywell

The Packard Merlin engine and propeller from a P-51D Mustang have been donated to Sywell Aviation Museum for restoration and display

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The Latest Historic Aviation News All in One Place

This is your one stop shop for everything you could possibly want to know about historic aviation. Historic aircraft flights, displays and renovations can all be found among the categories and articles linked to from this page.

Readers can find categories for Warbirds, restoration projects by individuals and organisations such as museums, and in-depth resources on iconic aircraft from all the corners of the globe. Whether it is the Hughes H-4 Hercules Spruce Goose, Boeing C-137 Stratoliner, Aerospatiale / British Aircraft Corporation Concorde, Tupolev Tu-144, Hawker Harrier jump-jet or any other historic commercial and military aircraft, the information is here at your fingertips.

Warbird News & Projects

Warbird enthusiasts spend their time bringing iconic military aircraft back to life and in some cases even back to a state of airworthiness. The name Warbird originally referred only to World War 2 era aircraft but has since been widened to include all historical military aircraft.

Popular Warbird types include the North American P-51 Mustang, Supermarine Spitfire, Hawker Hurricane and the Messerschmitt Bf109. While one or two-seat fighters are affordable for the individual enthusiast to restore, aviation museums and groups of people take on much larger aircraft. Examples of these, include, the Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress and the Avro Lancaster. The most famous of recent years must be the Avro Vulcan supersonic bomber, which is now on a static display in the UK but flew for several years at airshows.

See all the latest Warbird projects here

Spitfire Fighter Aircraft

The Supermarine Spitfire is arguably the most iconic World War II era European aircraft. Credited with a significant role in the Battle of Britain victory against the Luftwaffe’s assault on Great Britain in the summer of 1940, the propeller driven fighter was designed by Reginald J Mitchell at Supermarine Aviation. Mitchell designed the Spitfire with the Rolls-Royce Merlin and Griffon engines in mind because he saw their potential when combined with the aircraft’s unique aerodynamics.

The Spitfire first flew on 5th March 1936 from Eastleigh Aerodrome. However, due to production issues and limitations in Supermarine’s manufacturing process, the first production Spitfire did not take to the skies for a further 2 years. The Spitfire was born four months after the maiden flight of its partner aircraft, the Hawker Hurricane. Together they would deny Nazi Germany air superiority over England and the English channel.

Find out more about the legendary Spitfire

Aircraft Restorations

The restoration of historical aircraft is a challenge full of difficult obstacles with missing engines, control system parts, and the need for significant fuselage, wing or tail repair. The long, slow process of restoring an aircraft to a flight worthy condition or simply for static display is taken up by many individuals, but also museums and groups of enthusiasts.

The restorations undertaken can be as small as a one-seat civilian bi-plane or the always popular Warbirds, or as large as a Lockheed C-121C Constellation. Museums that tackle large scale restorations include the Historic Aircraft Restoration Museum in Missouri and the Museum of Flight in Everett, Washington. These museums have restored early propeller driven passenger aircraft and the early airliners built in the USA and Europe, like the de Havilland Comet.    

Read more aircraft restoration articles

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