Introduction

The first two editions of the NAHR were printed, followed by an electronic 3rd edition on disk. Neither of these formats proved ideal, as the BAPC/AHUK membership persisted in both collecting and moving aircraft at a rate incompatible with such inflexible formats. In addition, the NAHR soon became regarded as an internal AHUK document rather than a relevant tool to promote the immense historic value of Britain’s aviation heritage, and support the attraction of funding to maintain and develop it.

Clearly, the way forward was to develop the NAHR as an illustrated, searchable database, accessible to all via the BAPC/AHUK website, and both easy and cost effective to update. AHUK, as a registered Subject Specialist Network (SSN), was fortunate to secure funding from the Arts Council England to allow this to happen and the 4th edition was published.

This is the 5th Edition of the National Aviation Heritage Register (NAHR) developed with the generous assistance of Tony Edwards. For the first time, Members will be able to update their collection’s details on-line.

Terms of Reference

The first edition of the NAHR, published in 1998, established a benchmark in heritage assets survey work. It set out three clear objectives :

  • To promote improved standards of conservation and protection for preserved airframes, taking in to account their national significance.
  • To provide an authoritative source of information on preserved airframes to assist funding agencies to identify priorities for preservation.
  • To establish baseline data by which improvements in the conservation and protection of preserved airframes can be monitored and reviewed against the milestone targets in the National Aviation Heritage Strategy.

Since then changes in both the heritage sector and potential sources of funding have both highlighted the fundamental importance of the NAHR, particularly as the keystone of a National Aviation Heritage Strategy, and the need to review its terms of reference and format.

The scope of the NAHR has been widened. Airframes not on public display have been included for the first time, and the growing collections of hangliders, microlights, gliders and lighter-than-air having been given greater prominence. A number of leisure sports ‘record breakers’ are in preservations already, together with a number with importance, but there remains a recognized need for a more indepth survey and a guidance strategy to ensure that all important types are preserved.

The continuing role of the Warbird community in promoting the aviation heritage in its, perhaps, more accessible, form – keeping them flying – has been recognized by listing their aircraft in a new category ‘of interest’ which does not subject these privately owned aircraft, and the way they are operated, to judgement. It is notable that, of the aircraft noted as being ‘gaps’ in Sir Peter Masefield’s introduction to the first edition of the NAHR, almost all the progress in addressing this has come from the Warbirds sector, albeit with some co-operation from the nationally-funded museums. It is hoped that the Warbirds owners will appreciate the value of the NAHR and choose to ‘contract in’.

Other notable ‘gaps’ have been filled by the manufacture of reproductions, replicas and full scale model; often using some original parts. Whereas none of these sit comfortably with the original NAHR criteria, the case of the Boulton Paul Association makes it clear that all of these should be regarded as heritage assets. Thus the BAPC Register of ‘Anonymous’ Aircraft has been incorporated in the non-graded ‘of interest’ category also.

The BAPC Register of ‘Anonymous’ Aircraft was created in 1967 to track those aircraft, or similar heritage assets, that either had no registration or serial, or could not be identified. Since then fibreglass gate guardians and ‘recruiting aids’, and grounded hang gliders have been added to the Register. With the growing interest in collecting cockpit sections, including those which have never been part of a complete airframe, the Register is likely to be expanded further to include these. In 1981 a number of aircraft, such as the Bleriot XI and Blackburn monoplanes at Shuttleworth, were given civil registrations for the first time. Where applicable, database searches can be made using these as well as the previously allocated BAPC number.

It remains an AHUK aspiration to extend the NAHR to include other areas of aviation. The development of the National Aero Engine Register is underway.

Grading

Following consultation with stakeholders, it was decided to separate the scores for ‘heritage value’ from those for ‘collections care’. This has resulted in a graded register of airframes noting their specific importance to the nation’s aviation heritage, and an ‘at risk’ register. This serves to draw immediate attention to those historic aircraft in less well-funded museums and collections, and allows the more effective targeting of grant aid to enhance the standard of care they receive.

Scores in the established A-E categories indicate historical value, presented as either a National Benchmark, Significant or Noteworthy aircraft. Scores below an established baseline in the F-H categories indicate that the aircraft is perceived to be at risk.

As noted in the introduction, of interest aircraft are ungraded.

Ungraded indicates that insufficient information is currently available to grade.

The best example of each aircraft is designated as a Type Specimen. This is subject to periodic review.