The Aviation and Aerospace Archives Initiative

The Aviation and Aerospace Archives Initiative


Taking Off - the AAAI blog

11 Feb 2021

Rochester Avionics Archives presentation on Youtube!

For those of you who missed it or would like to see it again, Chris Bartlett's talk on Rochester Avionics Archives is now on Youtube, here
8 Jan 2021

Webinar on Rochester Avionics Archive

Please save the date and join us for a webinar on 2 February, 2pm-3.30pm, to discover more the creation, management, and future plans of the Rochester Avionics Archive.

Places are free

Note that you will not be sent the log-in details until a few days before the event (so please don’t worry if you only receive an email confirming your booking when you register now!).  

About this event:

This event is organised by the Aviation and Aerospace Archives Initiative. It will begin with a pre-recorded talk given by Chris Bartlett of Rochester Avionics Archive, located at BAE Systems’ Rochester site. Chris will tell the story of the establishment of the collection of objects and archival material by a group of ex-employees, who now manage both on a voluntary basis. He will also discuss how they have become an important resource supporting the company and business of BAE Systems. The talk will conclude with a showcase of some of the highlights of the collection. 

Chris will then be live in discussion with Tony Pilmer, Librarian and Archivist at the Royal Aeronautic Society, to talk more about Rochester Avionics Archive and to take questions from the audience. There will also be a chance to hear about the latest activities of the Aviation and Aerospace Archives Initiative.

About Rochester Avionics Archive:

The BAE Systems site at Rochester has gone through many changes of name and can trace its ancestry back to the original company founded by William Elliott in 1804; to many people the site is still known as ‘Elliotts’. The large collection of avionic hardware items together with an archive of films, documents, videos, brochures and newspapers goes back to 1950 but was brought together in 2005.

About Chris Bartlett:

Chris joined BAE SYSTEMS in 1972 and was involved in the design, development and programme management of avionics. His final position with BAE Systems was as Chief Technologist with responsibility for the strategic development of technologies into current or new business areas. He is a chartered engineer and recipient of a Lifetime Achievement Medal from the Institution of Engineering and Technology. He took early retirement in 2005 and led on the establishment of Rochester Avionics Archive, where he is now Curator.

2 Dec 2020
Armstrong Whitworth Argosy II, City of Edinburgh, of Imperial Airways at Croydon Airport. Image courtesy of NAL/RAeS

Armstrong Whitworth Argosy II, City of Edinburgh, of Imperial Airways at Croydon Airport. Image courtesy of NAL/RAeS

International Civil Aviation Day, 7 December 2020

 It’s International Civil Aviation Day!  And what better way to mark it in 2020 than with the hundredth anniversary of the opening of London Terminal Aerodrome - Croydon Airport.  

More here

21 Oct 2020

Allied Forces Heritage Group

The new Allied Forces Heritage Group website,, which went online on Saturday, is a wonderful resource with some fascinating stories from the aviation history of the World Wars.

Its ‘Projects’ section offers an initial first 16 of a series of ongoing research, stories and projects which will grow into a useful resource for modern history, bringing together personal experiences, often in the words of those who experienced them, within the historical context of the world-shaking events going on around them.

12 Aug 2020

Sir Freddie Laker's archive wins cataloguing grant

On 7 August the Business Archives Council announced that a business archives cataloguing grant had been awarded to West Sussex Record Office for the Sir Freddie Laker Archive.  The archive documents the rise and fall of Laker Airways and Skytrain and provides important insights into the UK’s aviation and social history in the 20th century. The grant will allow the archive to be fully catalogued and for that catalogue to be made available to researchers online.

Founded in 1966, Laker Airways was a small independent aviation firm which owed its success to its charismatic owner, Sir Freddie Laker. Laker Airways paved the way for budget airlines such as Ryanair and easyJet and challenged the dominance of long-haul flights by such giants as British Airways and Pan Am. Laker’s innovative Skytrain concept, launched in 1977, did not require advance reservations and provided low-price flights which proved hugely popular. Laker Airways went bankrupt in 1982, but went on to pursue a successful antitrust suit against some of the large airlines, arguing that they had slashed their fares to below-cost levels to drive Laker Airways and Skytrain out of business.

The archive dates from 1956 to 2004 and includes Freddie Laker’s appointment diaries (1962-83), a collection of press cuttings (1966-82), annual reports and accounts (1970s-80s), Laker’s office filing (1970s-80s), hundreds of letters sent to Laker following the collapse of his company, and legal documents relating to the antitrust case brought against British Airways, Pan Am, TWA and others in 1985.

The Business Archives Council, which awarded the cataloguing grant, was established in 1934 to promote the preservation of business records of historical importance; supply advice and information on business archives and modern records; and encourage the study of business history and archives. A registered charity led by archive professionals and academics, the Council produces a quarterly electronic newsletter, organises an annual conference, awards a business history prize and archive cataloguing grants, maintains the Managing Business Archives website (at and supports the national business archives crisis management team.

For more information on the award of the grant see:

24 Jun 2020

Aviation Archives guidance online!

We are delighted to be able to launch our archives guidance.

It has been written primarily for the benefit of non-professional archivists who care for archival material relating to any aspect of aviation and aerospace: manufacturers, operators, heritage bodies, enthusiasts and researchers alike.

The guidance was prepared by Dr Mike Rogers of The National Archives, with the assistance of the other members of the AAAI Documentation Subcommittee (Malcolm Fillmore, Barry Guess and Andrew Lewis). 

More here.

8 Jun 2020

Read about the aviation archives conference held at Aerospace Bristol in the June issue of Aerospace!

In this month’s Aerospace magazine there is an article based on our recent aero archives conference in Bristol and, for those who don’t get the magazine though their door or via the app, a version of the article can be seen here:

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