2016, was the Sesquicentennial (150 years anniversary) of the Royal Aeronautical Society (RAeS), the Septuagennial (70 years anniversary) of Heathrow Airport and the Sexagennial (60 years anniversary) of the RAeS Heathrow Branch. The Branch had many events planned to celebrate such anniversary milestones within our aeronautics community around Heathrow – including the most successful community outreach programme, the “HeathrowFirst!” Exhibition in the Spelthorne Museum at the Staines Library from 22nd April until 25th June 2016.
2016 kicked off with a historical lecture with a British Airways link – the history of the Airways Aero Association and in February, the Branch’s Sir Richard Fairey Named Lecture was given by Tom Grundy of Hybrid Air Vehicles, the Cardington-based company that is developing the Airlander airship. This well-received lecture could not have come at a better time as the aircraft is now ready to fly. In April 2016, the Branch has its last lecture hosted at British Airways Waterside Community Learning Centre (CLC), where the Branch hosted many of its lectures for nine consecutive years since 2007 and concluded the 2015/16 lecture season.
From September 2016, the Branch moved all lectures to Waterside Theatre, with a well attended first lecture of the 2016/17 season given by Prof Edwin Galea on Aircraft Evacuation & Fire Simulation. The Branch welcomed many colleagues from the British Airways Cabin Safety Team and many other BA colleagues, as well as young members.
In November, the Branch organised a site visit to the RAF Uxbridge Museum – Battle of Britain Bunker. The visit went well with good attendance from a profile Branch members that enthusiastic of historical aerospace collections. Chris Wren from the RAF Uxbridge Museum provided excellent introduction on the history and development of the War, the Bunker and the operation of the infrastructure itself and then the members were given opportunity to tour around the Museum exhibition.
During 2016, the Branch also delivered many career outreach activities at our local community, such as Heathrow Aviation UTC, Kingston University and London Metropolitan University etc. In December 2016, the Branch organised the first Young Members get-together at the local Smith’s Grill & Bar – a great opportunity for members to network with each other and seek advice from other members of the Branch and Society.
The Heathrow Branch had two major events planned to celebrate the Society’s 150th anniversary within the aeronautics community around Heathrow. At the beginning of the year, under the initiative from the Branch, British Airways painted the Society 150 Years Anniversary logo on the side of its Boeing 777 Jetliner, registration – “G-RAES”. This special livery has been flying in BA network, carried thousands of passenger around the world, including United States, Canada, India, Saudi Arabia, UAE etc. where the Society also have local Branches established.
From 22nd April until 25th June 2016, the Branch organised an extremely successful Exhibition – “HeathrowFirst!” in the Spelthorne Museum at the Staines Library. The retrospective was designed to celebrate several milestones in the aviation and Heathrow’s history in the year of 2016. The Exhibition was opened by Mr Kwazi Kwarteng, MP of Spelthorne and it included the presence Air Cdre Bill Tyack (CBE FRAeS RAF) Past‐President of the Society and expert in the Origins and History of the Royal Aeronautical Society, and Jonathon Counsell, the Head of Sustainability of the International Airlines Group.
The retrospective Exhibition offered a unique opportunity for the public to see fascinating photographs of some ‘innovative firsts’ in aviation at Heathrow Airport from its early years, when it was known as the Great West Aerodrome, until now. The images selected from the National Aerospace Library archives include aerial views of Heathrow Airport at different stages of construction, posters commemorating the RAeS Garden Parties celebrated at Heathrow Airport in the late 1930s and aeroplanes at Heathrow throughout the years.
COMMUNITY CONNECTIONS & LOOKING FORWARD
2016 is being a year of rejuvenation at the Royal Aeronautical Society Heathrow Branch and many of the 150th celebrations have been well attended and documented in social media by members of the Branch. Moreover, over the 2016, the Branch has been making efforts to improve the engagement with our local industry connections, as well as establish good relations under the frameworks of community outreach inactivates.
Looking forward to 2017, such effort will continue to be made to strength the presence of the Society and Branch at our local community, including the upcoming flagship Cool Aeronautics primary school outreach programme and the Heathrow Job and Careers Fair in February 2017, alongside with our industry partners – British Airways, Heathrow Airport and Kingston University etc. Plus many planned lectures, visits and networking opportunities for local aerospace professionals and our members.
Finally, wish all of our members and colleagues in the Heathrow community, a restful Christmas and Happy New Year!
Dr Ana M Pedraz, William Li, Eleanor McBrien
24 December 2016