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AERO HISTORY—A CENTURY AGO PART 1

“A BRIEF History of Modern Aeronautics,” by C.G. Grey, appeared as a supplement to Jane’s All The World’s Aircraft 1917. By that time, Jane’s had become the world’s authority on aeronautics, its first edition, All The World’s Airships (Aeroplanes and Dirigibles), having appeared in 1909.

Yet Grey, editor of Jane’s at the time, seems to have been a man not always letting facts get in the way of his opinions. Indeed, he grew even more so over time. Today, I examine the man; tomorrow I’ll share some of his views of aeronautical history up to 1916.

Jane’s Historical Aircraft from 1902 to 1916, a facsimile reprint from Jane’s All The World’s Aircraft 1917, Doubleday, 1972.

Charles Grey Grey, 1875–1953, began his career as a staff writer for The Autocar, founded in 1895 and later said to be the world’s oldest car magazine. While there, he also contributed to The Aero, a penny weekly. In 1911, Grey was co-founder of The Airplane, a weekly aviation magazine that he edited until 1939. His role of editor at Jane’s All The World’s Aircraft extended from 1916 to 1940.

From left to right, Aeroplane editor C.G. Grey, with two of his staff, C. Babington-Smith and F. Kelly, c. 1930s.

Grey was always outspoken, with some of his views landing decidedly on the wrong side of history: A Time magazine article is included in a Grey family online biography. Time, July 31, 1939, noted, “In a publication ostensibly technical, aerophobic Editor Grey devoted whopping columns to his pet political peeves and peevish political pets. He was shrilly pro-Nazi, anti-French, abominated U.S.-made planes, roundly clapperclawed the British Air Ministry for buying them. A colorful penman with spectacular contempt for fact (“What’s the good of that when you can invent your facts as you go along?”), führious Editor Grey perennially brewed bumpy weather in European air politics.”

“Particularly galling to patriotic homebodies,” Time continued, “were his frequent junkets into darkest Nazi Germany, whence he would return to his sanctum at No. 175 Piccadilly to decant fresh magnums of purple ink in praise of totalitarianism.”

Well, let’s not mince words here.

Tomorrow, we’ll read C.G. Grey’s summary of aero history—and his 1916 view on “the German.” ds

© Dennis Simanaitis, SimanaitisSays.com, 2018 “

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