On 13th October Dick Poole, whose career in BAe covered Flight Test at Dunsfold, of which he became head, the Chief Engineer's office at Kingston where he covered AV8B Night Attack and Harrier II+, Harriers GR7 T10, and Sea Harrier developments. He then moved to future projects at Warton and worked on what became JSF.

This date was the 50th anniversary of the first tethered hover of P.1127 XP831 so his talk was preceded by a celebratory buffet lunch, a digital slide show of  P.1127 development work and a video of early P.1127 flight testing compiled by Hugh Merewether from Flight Development 16 mm Kodachrome film.

Dick started with a historical summary. In 1901 Frank Hedges Butler, his daughter Vera and the Hon CS Rolls decided to form an Aero Club after a balloon flight from the Crystal Palace. Analogous to the Royal Automobile Club, the Aero Club initially catered for balloonists, issuing Aeronauts Certificates of competence.

The Royal Aero Club Trust

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With the rise in heavier-than-air flight a flying ground was opened on the Isle of Sheppey in 1909 where pilots were trained and if successful were issued with Aviators Certificates. Because of problems with flooding the flying was moved to nearby Eastchurch.

In 1910 the Club received royal approval and became the Royal Aero Club of the United Kingdom (RAeC) controlling the nation's non-commercial private and sporting flying, record setting and competitions which it does to this day.

Nowadays the RAeC has many Member organisations including the British: Aerobatic Association, Gliding Association, Balloon & Airship Club, Parachute Association, Precision Pilots Association, Microlight Association, Hang & Paragliding Association and Model Flying Association (formerly the Society of Model Aeronautical Engineers, SMAE).

Other Member organisations are the RAeC Records, Racing and Rally Association, the Helicopter Club of Great Britain, the Light Aircraft Association (formerly the Private Flying Association, PFA) and the Formula Air Racing Association.

Associate Member organisations include the Royal Aero Club Trust, the British Kite Flying Association, the British Women Pilots Association, the Historic Aircraft Association, Flying for the Disabled (to PPL/IR level), the RAF Museum and the Tiger Club.

In 1905 the Aero Club became a founder member of the Federation Aeronautique Internationale (FAI) representing it in the United Kingdom issuing Balloon Certificates from 1905, Aviators Certificates from 1910, Airship Pilots Certificates from 1911, Gliding Certificates from 1930 and Helicopter Aviator Certificates from 1947.

Turning to the RAeC Trust  Dick stated that the objectives were to catalogue and conserve historic records and documents, photographs, paintings, trophies and other artefacts. Many of these are held at the RAF Museum, Hendon, where here and elsewhere Dick is involved in identifying and listing and sometimes tracking down items in this priceless collection.

Amongst the trophies held is the Schneider Trophy for the annual closed circuit seaplane race started in 1913, won outright for the United Kingdom in 1931 following three successive victories, by JN Bootham in a Supermarine S6B. The second race in 1914 was won by Howard Pixton in a Sopwith Tabloid. The annual Britannia trophy for the most meritorious performance by a British aviator was awarded to Bill Bedford in 1963 for P.1127 test flying, and the King's Cup, presented by King George V in 1922, is for an annual handicapped cross country air race.

The artefacts include a piece of the Fokker Triplane in which Baron Von Richthoffen was shot down, a piece of the propeller from Louis Bleriot's cross channel monoplane and the sextant and compass used by Alcock and Brown on their Transatlantic flight.

The Trust also operates a Youth Bursary scheme funding 16 - 21 year olds with awards of up to 500 to improve their skills in recreational aviation activities managed by the individual RAeC organisations.

Details of the RAeC Trust and its collection can be found at www.royalaeroclubtrust.org.

After questions from the floor the vote of thanks was given by Chris Farara who said that Dick had given a most interesting and entertaining talk on a subject few in the large audience would be familiar with.