Aviation Ancestry is a resource devoted to cataloguing British aviation industry press advertisements from years 1909 to 1980. The project was started at this web address in 2005 and featured a simple directory with a handful of representative adverts on show.
As the project advanced the original format became too unwieldy to maintain and the content was transferred to a dedicated sister website for development as a searchable database and new directory. The database currently contains around 60,000 entries and is updated at regular intervals.
Why catalogue aviation industry advertisements?
It occurred to me that it might be an interesting way to chart the development of aviation companies, products or technologies over the first 75 years of the industry. For example if you were search the database using the keyword AVRO without specifying any date parameters you’d be able to scroll through some 899 adverts in date order as a timeline of products and achievements from 1910 to 1963.
There’s still a lot of work to do to make the database more user friendly. Of the 2,000 companies recorded very few survived without mergers, changes of ownership, changes of name or worse! Many were only part of the aviation industry supply chain for short periods or in times of crisis. The decision was made to rank major aircraft constructors equally with for example small sheet metal workshops. Or to put it another way if they advertised in the aviation press they deserve their place and they’re in! After all you can`t build an aircraft without a skilled and reliable supply chain.
Why two Websites?
Essentially it’s an administrative convenience… aviationancestry.co.uk is the database and aviationancestry.com (here) will be comment and articles related to these historic adverts. There are no immediate plans to merge the two as they perform distinctly different functions, but suitable links are provided to assist users where required. Both are actively maintained and updated.
Where do the adverts come from?
All the adverts featured are reproduced from original source material in my collection. These comprise many different (and often short lived!) magazines, journals and the like. To assist researches each advert has a unique reference number and cite source publication and date. * As you’d expect identical adverts featured simultaneously across a number of titles so references and sources are rarely exclusive.
Many users have been kind enough to make offers of new material but my policy is not to include anything where I don`t hold the originals. However I’m always interested in seeing sources for ads that may be missing from the catalogue, so please keep in touch.
Are you an advertising industry professional?
No – I’m interested in the history of the British aviation industry, but I welcome informed feedback about the way the ads were conceived and designed and insights into marketing trends.
And finally for now in case you were wondering what the most viewed ad of them all is.
It’s this de Havilland Dragon Rapide from 1936. Ad Ref: 17723