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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A Boulton Paul Defiant night fighter. Feature Premium

Astonishing Details of Air War from 1941

The Aeroplane published surprisingly detailed weekly reports of the aerial campaigns of the RAF and the Luftwaffe during World War Two - this example is from the May 16, 1941 issue

FlyPast Podcast Episode 34

For Episode 34 we’re talking to author Thomas McKelvey Cleaver to discuss his latest book, Under the Southern Cross and various other writings...

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How did the Tupolev Tu-144 compare to Concorde?

At the height of the Cold War, the East and West drew battle lines across land, resources, and technology. The supersonic passenger aircraft was a technological marvel whose race to production status echoed the state of warfare between the two superpowers. So, which was better: the European Concorde or the Russian Tu-144?

SOUTHERN TERMINUS. – S.A.A.’s DC-7B “Dromedaris” at Jan Smuts Airport after a 21-hr. run from London. Feature Premium

1957 in-flight review – South African Airways DC-7 service

A first-hand account of a then new SAA DC-7 route from the May 10, 1957 issue of The Aeroplane

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Aviation News September 2021

The full issue in page-turning PDF format

Historic aviation quiz

What will you score this week?

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The incredible life of Sarla Thakral 

August 10 marks the 107th anniversary of the birth of India’s first female pilot 

A T.W.A. Starliner, at London Airport. Feature Premium

Flying on the ultimate Constellation in 1957

The June 14, 1957 issue of The Aeroplane featured a report of flying on a TWA L-1649A Starliner, which details what it was like to fly on this iconic propliner.

An airship and a BE2 Feature Premium

What makes Farnborough the aviation capital of the UK?  

From the turn of the century, all through World War I, the inter-war period, World War II and later, Farnborough has been the central hub for all things aviation in Britain for over 100 years. Read part one now

“The cameraman had to dive out of the way of the oncoming Hurricane!”

Spitfire pilot John Preece and FlyPast contributor Peter Arnold share more memories from behind the scenes on the Battle of Britain.

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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