Royal Aeronautical Society - National Aerospace Library Sound Archive (Jeffrey Quill and John Cunningham Interviews)

The latest batch of extended interviews with test pilots and other leading aviation personalities from the National Aerospace Library's archives has just been released via the Royal Aeronautical Society's SoundCloud site (just click on the arrow button to 'Play')

In a separate interview and lecture the famous Vickers-Supermarine test pilot Jeffrey Quill describes the evolution of the Spitfire and its Rolls-Royce Merlin engine in all their marks  and his later career being responsible for the marketing the SEPECAT Jaguar and MRCA Tornado.

In a separate interview John ‘Cats-Eyes’ Cunningham HonFRAeS - de Havilland’s Chief Test Pilot - recounts highlights from his postwar career, including stories of flying the experimental DH.110 during a total electrical failure, the DH.108 following the death of Geoffrey de Havilland Jnr and the DH.106 Comet 1. and many of the aeroplanes that were designed and built at Hatfield, including the Hawker Siddeley Trident, Comet and DH.108. 

A quick link to the interviews available so far (including interviews with Captain Eric ‘Winkle’ Brown, Chuck Yeager, Scott Crossfield,  Handel Davies, Al White, Bill Humble, Pete Knight, Dick Johnson, Philip Lucas, Peter Bugge, Col. Emil ‘Ted’ Sturmthal, Harald Penrose, John Morton and D. P. Davies) is :-

In addition to these interviews, the National Aerospace Library holds a historically significant collection of past Royal Aeronautical Society lectures, interviews and other recordings (probably over 100 separate recordings dating back to the 1940s, which are in many cases the only record which the Society has of a particular speech or lecture)

These recordings (from the original gramophone records, magnetic reel recordings, cassette tapes) have now been digitalised - a real 'Who's Who' of aviation personalities and historical subjects including the voices of Sir Frederick Handley Page, Igor Sikorsky, Sir Barnes Wallis, Theodore von Karman and many other great names  - and the 'highlights' from this collection will subsequently be released via the Society's SoundCloud site over the next 18 months or so:-

As a 'taster' of what is  soon to follow two of these historic recordings are already available - the eminent early aviation historian Charles Gibbs-Smith discussing the work of the 'Father of Aeronautics' Sir George Cayley:-

and Peter Twiss and others describing the development of the Fairey Delta 2 and  the world air speed record of 1,132 mph it achieved in 1956:-

The intention of this project is to create a historically significant oral history archive which makes the voices of the past (pilots, engineers, scientists etc.) 'alive' once more to inspire and inform current and future generations and the sound archive has attracted a number of favourable comments / interest via social media.

Please note that  if these recordings or extracts from these recordings are to be reproduced  in any  way  (book,  journal  article,  web-site etc.), acknowledgement should  be  made to  the ‘Royal  Aeronautical  Society  (National Aerospace Library)’  as being  the source of  the original.

Please feel welcome to forward details of these historic aviation recordings to anyone who may be interested.

Brian Riddle
Chief Librarian
National Aerospace Library
: +44 (0)1252 701060
EThis email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Search  the  Library  catalogue                           

View wonderful images    

Listen to the Voices of Aviation Greats    

Explore Milestones of Early Aviation                                        

Read about our Special Collections                     

Hear about  them                                                                       
Visit the National Aerospace Library