About the current issue
Issue No 7 of our compact-format quarterly cements the status of The Aviation Historian as the fastest-growing aviation-history periodical on the market. It's storming ahead even though, as a highly specialist publication, it's not available in newsagents – most readers order it from the Shop or Subscribe pages of this website, and it's also available from a few selected museums and specialist aviation booksellers.
The current issue encompasses a timespan from early flying experiments in 1907 to present-day Reno air racing engine technology, a global sweep across four continents, and revelations from the latest historical research.
Our cover story describes the innovative use of the Blackburn Universal Freighter – which saw RAF service as the Beverley transport – to move heavy oil-drilling equipment to the remote desert of Oman in 1955. Another innovation, one scarcely credible to those not in the know, was the operation of Lockheed U-2 spyplanes aboard US Navy aircraft carriers in the 1960s–70s; U-2 specialist Chris Pocock has updated and expanded his coverage of the subject especially for TAH in light of newly-declassified documents.
As unexpected as U-2 ops off carriers is the fact that solo transatlantic icon Charles Lindbergh was very nearly drummed out of the United States Army Air Service two years before his epoch-making New York–Paris flight. How history might have differed!
Looking back at the origins of aviation, our serialisation of F.W. Merriam's priceless lost book manuscript Echoes From Dawn Skies continues with Eric Gordon England's recollections of early flying mischief, from a dunking in the famous sewage farm at Brooklands to buzzing Kaiser Wilhelm's royal yacht in Kiel Harbour a fortnight before the onset of World War One. Meanwhile New Zealand-based historian Errol Martyn presents a myth-busting analysis of the achievements of pioneer experimenter Richard Pearse.
For pure bravura flying (and writing), look no further than prominent test pilot John Farley's account of demonstrating Harrier G-VSTO to the Swiss Air Force in a natural Alpine amphitheatre in 1971. And for sheer technological virtuosity, read legendary racing pilot and engineer Bruce Lockwood's development history of the fearsome "Tube Merlin" powerplant for Reno racers. Bruce's article is illustrated with specially-commissioned information graphics by Ian Bott.
An altogether gentler pace – indeed, the positively gastropodic progress of bureaucracy – is demonstrated in Chris Gibson's chronicle of the naming of the Hawker Siddeley Nimrod: it took 40 goes, and two years, before such suggestions as Cormorant, Plymouth, Drake and Winston were finally rejected in favour of "the mighty hunter".
Turning back to civil air transport, did you know that Belgian flag-carrier Sabena was the only European airline to operate international helicopter services? Bob Rongé provides chapter and verse. And another little-known civil aircraft development, the story of the post-military use of the Northrop P-61 Black Widow's photo-recce variant, the F-15 Reporter, is told by Michael O'Leary, with colour artwork by Arvo Vercamer.
More artwork, in the shape of a scale drawing of the Caproni Ca.114, is included in Amaru Tincopa's feature on the pretty Italian biplane's use by the Peruvian Aviation Corps in the 1930s–40s.
All this, plus photographic spreads of rare images, and more, awaits the discerning reader in Issue 7 of The Aviation Historian.
Nick Stroud, Editor