What is Air-Britain?

Air-Britain was formed in 1948 to fill the gap left by the cessation of publication of the war-time newspaper The Aeroplane Spotter and by the disbandment of the National Association of Spotters Clubs. The latter organisation had been set up to co-ordinate the large numbers of aircraft spotters whose main duties were to man observation posts to identify the approach of enemy aircraft. Many of these were on top of factories where skill in identifying hostile from friendly aircraft enabled warning to be given to the workers to rapidly take cover.

In addition to these, the Royal Observer Corps manned a large number of posts that reported aircraft movements to the air defence network, both friendly and hostile, so that 'plots' derived from the radar network could be classified. In the Services, anti-aircraft gunners and air crews were also required to study aircraft recognition and The Aeroplane Spotter was begun in 1941 by the long-established magazine The Aeroplane to provide information and silhouettes on existing and new aircraft.

From the purely practical aspects of recognising shapes grew a more general interest in aircraft and after the war this remained in many former 'spotters'. The Aeroplane Spotter was closed down for commercial reasons, leaving little information for those interested as a leisure activity, the commercial aviation magazines of the time being aimed at those working in the aviation industry.

So, in 1948, Air-Britain was formed and attracted many people who had lost their sources of current news and historical background on the subject. The title 'Air-Britain' was chosen as there were already members in other countries who considered it possible to form their own national, but affiliated, associations. In the event only 'Air-Denmark' got off the ground at this time. However, other national societies later came into being under various names.

Our house magazine Air-Britain Digest began publication in 1949. Now known as Aviation World, it remains the medium of communication between the management of Air-Britain and the ordinary members. It is published quarterly (in March, June, September and December) and is currently a glossy and well-illustrated magazine which includes articles of general aviation interest and is distributed to all members as part of their annual subscription.

Air-Britain is run entirely by voluntary labour and has no paid staff. A vast amount of information has been compiled and published in the half-century which the Association has existed. Many of our members have become recognised experts in their own fields. Probably none anticipated when they first joined how their interests would develop and many have been surprised to find themselves engaged in tasks that are a long way from how they earn their daily bread.

Technical qualifications are always welcomed and useful and no organisation the size of Air-Britain could survive long without considerable know-how in a wide variety of subjects. However, most members are not in a position to provide services but support us by sending in their subscriptions and buying our products. A large amount of correspondence from members helps to add to our knowledge of many subjects and information about what is happening today becomes tomorrow's history.

New members are welcome. The subscription year begins in January but those joining later in the year will receive back numbers of all the magazines they have included in their subscription.

Aims and Objects

The Articles of Association of Air-Britain, our Constitution, lay down the purposes for which the Association was set up. The main objects are summarised as follows:

  1. 1. To promote education in aviation subjects
  2. 2. To advance public knowledge of aviation in all its forms
  3. 3. To publish such information in the form of books and magazines
  4. 4. To record current events on the principle that today's news is tomorrow's history and will be valuable for researchers and historians in the future
  5. 5. To support museums and associations involved in the preservation of historical aircraft and records


Information Services

Members are provided with a contact list of specialists in many different aviation fields.

Air-Britain Members also have access to an internet forum AB-IX with which they can share their knowledge and get information from fellow members.

Photographic Services

Air-Britain maintains monochrome and colour slide libraries where copies can be obtained by members only at prices considerably less than those charged by commercial sources.

In 2006 we established a digital photographic collection through the internet where members and the public can submit their digital aviation photographs. www.ABPIC.co.uk is rapidly becoming another useful tool available to aviation historians and enthusiasts.


Air-Britain Travel organises tours for members and their immediate family from the UK to many areas. Apart from Western Europe and the continental USA, trips have been made recently to Alaska, Eastern Europe, South Africa and Australia.


For many years, the Air-Britain Fly-In has gathered in large numbers of aircraft, both flown in by our members and visitors from as far afield as Estonia, Spain and Italy. The event is open to the public and access to the aircraft parking areas is allowed where possible. 240 is the largest number of visiting aircraft gathered to date, at Middle Wallop, and numbers regularly exceed 150. The event has moved around different airfields during its 28-year history including Old Warden, White Waltham, Duxford, Wroughton, Wellesbourne Mountford, Staverton and Coventry and currently the Fly-In is being held at North Weald.


A network of branches exists where members can meet their fellow enthusiasts, and they provide a range of activities. These are currently situated in Blackpool, Bournemouth, Central Scotland, Chilterns, Exeter, Gwent, Heston, Merseyside, Luton, Manchester, Midlands, North-East England, Rugby, Sheffield, South-West Essex, Solent, Stansted and West Cornwall. There are also branches in France and the Netherlands. A list of addresses for these is issued to all new members.

More Information about Air-Britain Branches

If you have any comments please free to contact our current chairman, Malcolm Fillmore