Royal Aeronautical Society

Royal Aeronautical Society
Abbreviation RAeS
Formation January 1866
Type Professional institution
Legal status Non-profit company
Region served
Chief Executive
Simon Luxmoore
Main organ
Board of Trustees
Affiliations Engineering Council
Website RAeS

The Royal Aeronautical Society, also known as the RAeS, is a British multi-disciplinary professional institution dedicated to the global aerospace community. Founded in 1866, it is the oldest aeronautical society in the world.[1] Fellows and Companions of the society can use the post-nominal titles FRAeS or CRAeS, respectively.[2]


The objectives of The Royal Aeronautical Society include: to support and maintain high professional standards in aerospace disciplines; to provide a unique source of specialist information and a local forum for the exchange of ideas; and to exert influence in the interests of aerospace in the public and industrial arenas.

The Royal Aeronautical Society is a worldwide society with an international network of 67 branches. Many practitioners of aerospace disciplines use the Society's designatory post-nominals such as FRAeS, CRAeS, MRAeS, AMRAeS, and ARAeS (incorporating the former graduate grade, GradRAeS).

The RAeS headquarters is located in the United Kingdom. The staff of the Royal Aeronautical Society are based at the Society's headquarters at No. 4 Hamilton Place, London, W1J 7BQ.[3] The headquarters is on the north-east edge of Hyde Park Corner, with the nearest access being Hyde Park Corner tube station.


Branches and divisions

Branches are the regional embodiment of the Society. They deliver membership benefits and provide a global platform for the dissemination of aerospace information. As of September 2013, branches located in the United Kingdom include: Belfast, Birmingham, Boscombe Down, Bristol, Brough, Cambridge, Cardiff, Chester, Christchurch, Coventry, Cranfield, Cranwell, Derby, FAA Yeovilton, Farnborough, Gatwick, Gloucester & Cheltenham, Hatfield, Heathrow, Highland, Isle of Wight, Isle of Man, Loughborough, Manchester, Marham, Medway, Oxford, Preston, Prestwick, Sheffield, Solent, Southend, Stevenage, Swindon, Weybridge, and Yeovil.

The RAeS international branch network includes: Adelaide, Auckland, Blenheim, Brisbane, Brussels, Canberra, Canterbury, Cyprus, Dublin, Hamburg, Hamilton, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Melbourne, Montreal, Munich, Palmerston North, Paris, Perth, Seattle, Singapore, Sydney, Toulouse, and the UAE.

Divisions of the Society have been formed in countries and regions that can sustain a number of Branches. Divisions operate with a large degree of autonomy, being responsible for their own branch network, membership recruitment, subscription levels, conference and lecture programmes.

Specialist Groups covering all facets of the aerospace industry exist under the overall umbrella of the Society, with the aim of serving the interests of both enthusiasts and industry professionals.

The Groups' remit is to consider significant developments in their field, and they attempt to achieve this through their conferences and lectures, with the intention of stimulating debate and facilitating action on key industry issues in order to reflect and respond to the constant innovation and progress in aviation. The Groups also act as focal points for all enquiries to the Society concerning their specialist subject matter, forming a crucial interface between the Society and the world in general.

As of September 2013, the Specialist Group committees are as follows: Aerodynamics, Aerospace Medicine, Aircraft Maintenance Engineers, Air Power, Air Law, Air Transport, Airworthiness & Maintenance, Avionics & Systems, Environment, Flight Operations, Flight Simulation,[4] Flight Test, General Aviation, Greener by Design, Historical, Human Factors, Human Powered Flight, Management Studies, Propulsion, Rotorcraft, Space, Structures & Materials, UAS, Weapons Systems & Technologies, and Women in Aviation & Aerospace.

In 2009, the Royal Aeronautical Society formed a group of experts to document how to better simulate aircraft upset conditions, and thus improve training programs.[5]


The Society's headquarters at No.4 Hamilton Place in London

The Society was founded in January 1866 with the name "The Aeronautical Society of Great Britain" and is the oldest aeronautical society in the world.[6] Early or founding members included James Glaisher, Francis Wenham, the Duke of Argyll, and Frederick Brearey.[7] In the first year, there were 65 members, at the end of the second year, 91 members, and in the third year, 106 members.[8] Annual reports were produced in the first decades. In 1868 the Society held a major exhibition at London's Crystal Palace with 78 entries. John Stringfellow's steam engine was shown there.[8][9][10] The Society sponsored the first wind tunnel in 1870-71, designed by Wenham and Browning.[8]

In 1918, the organization's name was changed to the Royal Aeronautical Society.[11]

In 1923 its principal journal was renamed from The Aeronautical Journal to The Journal of the Royal Aeronautical Society and in 1927 the Institution of Aeronautical Engineers Journal was merged into it.[12]

In 1940, the RAeS responded to the wartime need to expand the aircraft industry. The Society established a Technical Department to bring together the best available knowledge and present it in an authoritative and accessible form – a working tool for engineers who might come from other industries and lack the specialised knowledge required for aircraft design. This technical department became known as the Engineering Sciences Data Unit (ESDU) and eventually became a separate entity in the 1980s.

In 1987 the 'Society of Licensed Aircraft Engineers and Technologists', previously called the 'Society of Licensed Aircraft Engineers' was incorporated into the Royal Aeronautical Society.


The following have served as President of the Royal Aeronautical Society:[13]


The Society awards a number of medals and prizes. These include its Gold, Silver, and Bronze medals. The very first gold medal was awarded in 1909 to the Wright Brothers.[26] Although it is unusual for more than one medal (in each of the three grades) to be awarded annually, since 2004 the Society has also periodically awarded team medals (Gold, Silver, and Bronze) for exceptional or groundbreaking teamwork in aeronautical research and development. Others awarded have included the R. P. Alston Memorial Prize for developments in flight-testing, the Edward Busk prize for applied aerodynamics, the Wakefield Medal for advances in aviation safety, and an Orville Wright Prize.[27] Honorary Fellowships and Honorary Companionships are awarded as well.

The Sir Robert Hardingham Sword The Sir Robert Hardingham Sword is awarded in recognition of outstanding service to the RAeS by a member of the Society. Nominally an annual award, in practice the award is only made about one year in two.

Notable Gold Medal recipients

Notable Gold Medal recipients include:

Named Lectures

Henson & Stringfellow Lecture and Dinner

The annual Henson & Stringfellow Lecture and Dinner is hosted yearly by the Yeovil Branch of the Royal Aeronautical Society, held at Westland Leisure Complex, and is a key social and networking event of the Yeovil lecture season. It is a black tie event attracting over 200 guests drawn from all sectors of the aerospace community.

John Stringfellow created, alongside William Samuel Henson, the first powered flight aircraft, developed in Chard, Somerset, which flew unmanned in 1848, 63 years prior to brothers Wilbur & Orville Wrights' flight.[30][31][32][33][34][35]

Wilbur & Orville Wright Named Lecture

The Wilbur & Orville Wright Named Lecture was established in 1911 to honour the Wright brothers, the successful and experienced mechanical engineers who completed the first successful controlled powered flight on 17 December 1903. The Wilbur & Orville Wright Lecture is the principal event in the Society’s year, given by distinguished members of the US and UK aerospace communities.

The 99th Lecture was given by Piers Sellers, astronaut, on 9 December 2010 at the Society's Headquarters in London.[36]

The 100th Lecture was given by Suzanna Darcy-Henneman, Chief Pilot & Director of Training, Boeing Commercial Airplanes, on 8 December 2011.[37]

The 101st Lecture was given by Tony Parasida, Corporate Vice President, The Boeing Company, on 20 December 2012.[38]

The 2013 Lecture was given by Thomas Enders, CEO of EADS, on 12 December 2013.[39]

Amy Johnson Named Lecture

The Amy Johnson Named Lecture[40] was inaugurated in 2011 by the Royal Aeronautical Society's Women in Aviation and Aerospace Committee[41] to celebrate a century of women in flight[42] and to honour Britain's most famous woman aviator. The Lecture is held on or close to 6 July every year to mark the date in 1929 when Amy Johnson was awarded her pilot’s licence. The Lecture is intended to tackle serious issues of interest to a wide audience, not just women. High-profile women from industry are asked to lecture on a topic that speaks of future challenges of interest to everyone.[43]

Carolyn McCall, Chief Executive of EasyJet, delivered the Inaugural Lecture on 6 July 2011 at the Society's Headquarters in London.[44]

The second Amy Johnson Named Lecture was delivered by Marion C. Blakey, President and Chief Executive of Aerospace Industries Association (AIA), on 5 July 2012.

The third Lecture was delivered by Gretchen Haskins, former Group Director of the Safety Regulation Group of the UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), on 8 July 2013.[45]


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  2. "Royal Aeronautical Society, Become a Member". Retrieved 20 September 2016.
  3. "No.4 Hamilton Place, Events Venue in London Mayfair". No.4 Hamilton Place. Retrieved 27 January 2016.
  4. "Royal Aeronautical Society Flight Simulation Group". 2016. Retrieved 27 January 2016.
  5. Croft, John (14 November 2009). "News: Upset training group to hold first meeting". Flight. Retrieved 27 January 2016. The devices are not currently required to perform accurately in the realm outside of the flight or wind tunnel test points, nor are pilots currently trained to fly in those conditions.
  6. Little, Andrew (2000). "The Royal Aeronautical Society". Air & Space Europe. Elsevier. 2 (3): 80–83. doi:10.1016/S1290-0958(00)80071-4.
  7. "History Of The Society". Royal Aeronautical Society. 2014. Retrieved 27 January 2016.
  8. 1 2 3 The Aeronautical Journal (PDF). Royal Aeronautical Society. July 1908. p. 97. Retrieved 27 January 2016.
  9. Bloobottle Studio. "Chard Museum". Retrieved 27 January 2016.
  10. Penrose, Harald (1988). An Ancient Air: A Biography of John Stringfellow of Chard, The Victorian Aeronautical Pioneer. Shrewsbury: Airlife Publishing Ltd. ISBN 9781853100475.
  11. Isbister, W. (2016). "Division History pre-1927". Royal Aeronautical Society Australian Division. Retrieved 27 January 2016.
  12. Aeronautical and Space Serial Publications: a world list. 1962. Science and Technology Division, Reference Department, Library of Congress. Washington, DC: U.S Government Printing Office. p. 73 refers to this journal.
  13. Past Presidents, Royal Aeronautical Society (Retrieved 17 Oct 2016).
  14. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 "Society Worthies...", Flight, 89 (2965), pp. 65–70, 6 January 1966, retrieved 6 April 2013.
  15. 1 2 The Houghton Mifflin dictionary of biography. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 2003. p. 520.
  16. "Sir Peter Masefield", The Daily Telegraph, 17 February 2006, retrieved 6 April 2013.
  17. Howe, Denis (22 October 2011). "Obituary: Professor David Keith-Lucas". The Independent.
  18. "New RAeS President". Flight. 95 (3141): 814. 22 May 1969. Retrieved 27 January 2016.
  19. Banks, F. R. (23 October 1969). "Six of the Best". Flight International (Diamond Jubilee Supplement). 96 (3163): 41. Retrieved 27 January 2016.
  20. 1 2 Baxter, Daniel (21 May 2010). "AVM David Couzens becomes President of the Royal Aeronautical Society". AvStop Online Magazine. Retrieved 27 January 2016.
  21. "President of Pratt & Whitney to be guest of honour at RAeS annual banquet". Royal Aeronautical Society. 24 February 2012.
  22. "Phil Boyle Takes Up Prestigious Global Aerospace Position as President of the Royal Aeronautical Society". Ramsey Hall talent management. 22 May 2012. Retrieved 27 January 2016.
  23. "Interview: Jenny Body, President of the Royal Aeronautical Society". Scottish Physics Teaching Resources. 6 October 2013. Retrieved 27 January 2016.
  24. 1 2 "The Royal Aeronautical Society Council". Royal Aeronautical Society. 27 January 2016. Retrieved 27 January 2016.
  25. "The Royal Aeronautical Society Council". Royal Aeronautical Society. Retrieved 12 June 2016.
  26. First award stated on the Society's website.
  27. 1 2 "The Wilbur Wright Lecture—and R.Ae.S. Awards". Flight. 67 (2416): 607. 13 May 1955. Retrieved 27 January 2016.
  28. "Distinguished Gathering". Flight. 73 (2574): 698. 23 May 1958. Retrieved 27 January 2016.
  29. "Royal Aero Club awards". Flight. 112 (3586): 1718. 10 December 1977. Retrieved 9 June 2012.
  30. Parramore, Thomas C. (1 March 2003). First to Fly: North Carolina and the Beginnings of Aviation. UNC Press Books. p. 46. ISBN 978-0-8078-5470-9. Retrieved 27 January 2016.
  31. "High hopes for replica plane". BBC News. 10 October 2001. Retrieved 27 January 2016.
  32. "A series of experiments ...". Scientific American. 4 (1): 4. 23 September 1848.
  33. "They All Laughed". New Scientist. 11 October 2003.
  34. Gray, Carroll F. (2006). "William Samuel Henson". Flying Retrieved 27 January 2016.
  35. Naughton, Russell (5 December 2002). "John Stringfellow (1799–1883) and William Samuel Henson (1812–1888) – Aviation Pioneers". Monash University Centre for Telecommunications and Information Engineering. Retrieved 27 January 2016.
  36. ""Flying in space" – The 99th Wilbur and Orville Wright Lecture". Royal Aeronautical Society. 18 December 2010.
  37. "100th Wilbur and Orville Wright Lecture". Royal Aeronautical Society. 2011. Retrieved 27 January 2016.
  38. "Tony Parsida delivers the 101st Wilbur and Orville Wright Lecture". Royal Aeronautical Society. 20 December 2012.
  39. "Wilbur & Orville Wright Lecture 2013". Royal Aeronautical Society. 2013. Retrieved 27 January 2016.
  40. "Amy Johnson Lecture". Royal Aeronautical Society. 2015. Retrieved 27 January 2016.
  41. "Women in Aviation & Aerospace". Royal Aeronautical Society. 2015. Retrieved 27 January 2016.
  42. In 1911, Hilda Hewlett became the first British woman to earn her pilot's licence.
  43. "Introductory comments from Elizabeth Donnelly of the Women in Aviation & Aerospace Committee to the 2012 Lecture". Royal Aeronautical Society. 4 September 2012.
  44. "Carolynn McCall to speak at inaugural Amy Johnson Named Lecture". Royal Aeronautical Society. 26 July 2011.
  45. "Amy Johnson Named Lecture 2013". Royal Aeronautical Society. 2013. Retrieved 27 January 2016.
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