Braughing is home to a flourishing aviation society that in 2018 celebrates 21 years since formation. Also this year the more inclusive title of the East Hertfordshire Aviation Society has been adopted, recognising that our regular audience and membership now comes from way beyond the village and its environs.
As the Braughing Aviation Society, it was formed in 1997 by the late Len Howett, who went on to become life president. A member of the Glider Pilot Regiment in World War 2, in company with others Len conceived the idea of a village society that provided a meeting place and forum for anyone with an interest in aviation. That provided the blueprint for the Society as it exists now.
Our 40 plus members, male and female, are drawn from a variety of disciplines and backgrounds. Those with aviation somewhere in their working life include ex-Service personnel, commercial and private pilots, engineers, historians, journalists, and so on. But such backgrounds are not a condition of membership. We also have ex-policemen, farmers, businessmen, administrators, accountants and the like. The common bond is their interest in and enthusiasm for the subject. There is no joining fee. The only cost is £3 per meeting that goes towards speaker expenses and other overheads.
Anyone with an interest, however general, is made most welcome. Meetings, almost invariably with a guest speaker, are held monthly, autumn to early summer, on the first Wednesday of each month, starting in September, continuing through winter and spring and ending for a summer break in May/June. Such is the reputation that the Society enjoys that some of our speakers want to come and present to us rather than our having to persuade them to do so. At other times, our own members present on aspects on which they are expert.
By way of illustration of the types and variety of talks that we enjoy, here is the meetings calendar for the first half of 2018:
3 January: Racing at Reno. James Stringer’s pilot’s eye view of taking part in the US National Air Races.
7 February: My Uncle, the Battle of Britain VC. An oral portrait of Eric James Brindley Nicolson by his nephew, Jim Nicolson.
7 March: Pigs do Fly. The mysterious world of transporting animals by air, as experienced by Ken Hemming.
4 April: Bolt from the Blue. Richard Norris of the Lightning Preservation Group tells the story of the Mach 2 fighter that served with the RAF from the ‘60s until the ‘80s and caring for the few that remain.
2 May: British Aircraft Development in the 1930s. What came off the drawing boards in the decade leading up to World War 2 is analysed by Terry McCarthy.
6 June: Following in Father’s Slipstream. Gp. Capt. Tom Eeles’ account of his RAF flying career and its parallels with that of his father.
There will then be a break until 5 September, the programme resuming with a presentation on RAF Bomber Command by George Caple, appropriately in the RAF’s centenary year, and continuing monthly and uninterrupted until early summer 2019.
East Hertfordshire Aviation Society meetings are held at The Axe & Compasses public house, 28 The Street, Braughing, SG11 2QR, starting at 20.00. Many members meet beforehand from 18.30 onwards for a chat over supper and drinks.