The aeronautical history research files of Harald Penrose

Scope and Content

A collection of letters from key figures in twentieth century aviation answering questions posed by Harald Penrose, for his series of books on British aviation before the Second World War.

Administrative / Biographical History

Harald Penrose gained an aeronautical engineering qualification before joining Yeovil's Westland Aircraft during 1926. A year later he gained a commission in the RAF Auxiliary, learned to fly and swiftly began to use his new skills at Westlands.

In 1931 Penrose was appointed Westland's Chief Test Pilot and in the succeeding twenty-two years made the initial test flight in each of Westland's aircraft. In 1953 he became Westland's sales manager. He retired in 1967.

Penrose combined his career at Westlands with that of an aviation author and historian. As well as writing a number of volumes of autobiography, he wrote a biography of Roy Chadwick and a history of British Airways. Between 1967 and 1979 he wrote a five part history of British Aviation:

British aviation : the pioneer years, 1903-1914
British Aviation : the Great War and Armistice 1915-1919
British aviation : The adventuring years, 1920-1929
British aviation : widening horizons 1930-1934
British Aviation : The Ominous Skies 1935-1939.

Penrose died on 31 August 1996.

Access Information

Open for consultation.