Simanaitis Says

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“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,, 2018 “


  1. Rod
    May 21, 2021

    GG Grey was secretly doing aerial photo-reconnaissance of Germany in 1939 for the RAF just before the war. He flew the last British aircraft out of Berlin – in a US made Lockheed that he had modified for the missions. 24 August 1939.

  2. rod
    May 21, 2021

    From the log of 1936 “Lockheed 12A “Electra Jr.” Airframe: 7059 TTSN:
    … Local flight at Heston, to Ramsgate next day At this period fitted with Leica cameras in the wings 26JUL39 – Heston-Templehof, Berlin, returned next day, photo sorties on both flights 28JUL39 – Heston-Brussels, Cotton, with C.G. Grey (“Aeroplane” editor), then to Frankfurt, with Niven, Margaret Gilruth 29JUL39 – Local flight from Frankfurt, Cotton, with Commandent of Templehof Aerodrome, used to photograph Mannheim area 31JUL39 …

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