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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Above and Beyond: RAF observer Jack Strain

Graham Pitchfork reflects on the valour of RAF observer Jack Strain who flew in the Mediterranean theatre during World War Two

FlyPast Podcast Episode 35

For this episode we're joined by Peter Neale, one the friendly and knowledgeable volunteers from the Spitfire and Hurricane Memorial Museum based at former RAF Manston...

A Hawk of No 1 Tactical Weapons Unit firing a salvo of 68mm unguided rockets from a Sneb pod. Feature Premium

Step Back in Time – 1980 Hawk Flight and Tactical Training at RAF Brawdy

An interesting snapshot, from the January 1981 issue of Aeroplane Monthly, of RAF fast jet training from a time when the air force was ramping up aircrew throughput to populate the growing Tornado GR.1 force

Simon's Sircus Feature Premium

Simon’s Sircus: The Navy’s Sea Vixen display team

Founded by 892 Naval Air Squadron, Simon’s Sircus was one of many legendary jet display teams to grace British airshows during the 1960s

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Tigers burn bright

Recreating a spectacle that hadn’t been seen since the 1930s,...

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FlyPast October 2021

The full issue in page-turning PDF format

Historic Aviation Quiz

Test your knowledge with ten fiendishly tricky questions!

A USAF Douglas C-133A Cargomaster. Feature Premium

The World’s Biggest Transport Aircraft…in 1957

The Aeroplane, in its June 21, 1957 issue, reported on the progress of the massive Douglas C-133A being manufactured for the US Air Force

An RAF Comet of 216 Squadron. Feature Premium

On-board RAF Comet Training Flight to Africa in 1957

A revealing account of RAF Comet operations from the May 17, 1957 issue of The Aeroplane

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

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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