The aeronautical and other papers of Major BFS Baden-Powell Hon FRAeS

Scope and Content

Collection focuses on Major Baden Powell's aeronautical engineering projects, his work on publicising aeronautics through lectures and in print and his internationally important collection of cuttings on early manned flight. The collection also contains a small amount of personal papers.

Major Baden Powell's aeronautical correspondence files, both in a private capacity and as Secretary and President of the Aeronautical Society of Great Britain, can be found in RAeSL/6 .

Administrative / Biographical History

In 1880 Baden-Powell saw his first hot air balloon fly in 1880 and in the same year joined the Aeronautical Society of Great Britain. In November, 1896, Major Baden-Powell agreed to act as Honorary Secretary, and he had virtually re-established the Aeronautical Society. The new Honorary Secretary widened the interest in the Society, and the Journal, which had lapsed, was issued quarterly under his editorship. In March, 1897; the journal was published entirely at his own expense and risk. In 1899 Major Baden-Powell left England to take part in the South African War. In July, 1900, he was elected President of the Aeronautical Society, a post he held for seven years. In 1908 he was elected a Vice President.

Major Baden-Powell was one of the first to experiment with man-lifting kites, and, as stated in the Aeronautical Journal (April, 1897) "the first well authenticated occasion on which a man was raised by a kite was on June 27th, 1894, when Captain Baden-Powell, Scots Guards, conducted some experiments at Pirbright Camp." Previously he had been a leading spirit in military ballooning. During the Boer War his "kites were successfully used for reconnaissance, photography and wireless. It was in 1881 he made his first balloon ascent, and in 1884 he owned his own balloon. In 1898 he read his exhaustive paper on Kites in Theory and Practice.

Always a close student of the possibilities of heavier-than-air flight, in March, 1904, he read a paper on Experiments with Aerial Screw Propellers, after having carried out 350 tests on various types of airscrews. In the Aeronautical Journal for July 1904, Major Baden-Powell described at length his experiments with gliders at the Crystal Palace, with a view to building a power-driven aeroplane. The experiments were carried out with Mr. J. T. C. Moore-Brabazon.

On October 8th, 1908, Major Baden-Powell flew with Wilbur Wright, being the second Englishman to fly. The first was Mr. Griffith Brewer, who flew on the same day with Mr. Wilbur Wright, shortly before Major Baden-Powell

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Other Finding Aids

Typescript catalogue available at the National Aerospace Library.