Wings Over Thurleigh

'Wings' was first published in 2001. It  was reprinted during 2010 in its 3rd edition. Minor corrections were made to the text and many additional photographs were included. This edition has now sold out although second hand copies may occasionally be found.

In view of a continuing interest, however, the Heritage Group has supported the publication of a Fourth Edition. This is in soft back format. The content remains essentially unchanged from the Third Edition.






Philip Brotherhood
John Daniels
Patricia Hurry
Derek Lewis
Peter Nicholas
Ronald Newbery
Anthony Smith


The Chapter titles are

     Chapter 1 The Origins of the Establishment

     Chapter 2 Thurleigh Airfield

     Chapter 3 Aerodynamics Flight Division

     Chapter 4 Some Aero Flight Research Programmes

     Chapter 5 Research Programmes Related to Particular Aircraft

     Chapter 6 VSTOL Research at Thurleigh

     Chapter 7 Helicopter and Hovercraft Research

     Chapter 8 The Blind Landing Experimental Unit [BLEU]

     Chapter 9 Landing Research Facilities

     Chapter 10 Operational Systems Division

     Chapter 11 Naval Air Department

     Chapter 12 The Thurleigh Experience – Innovation and Discovery

All proceeds from sales will be used to support the work of the Group.

Please contact the Group to purchase a copy of 'Wings over Thurleigh'.  The price is £15 plus P&P.


Wind Beneath the Wings

To complement the previously published Wings Over Thurleigh, Mike Dobson has written a new book 'Wind Beneath the Wings', which traces the evolution of Bedford’s tunnels from earliest thoughts on supersonic flow in RAE, via a “German connection”, through to their construction at Bedford. It also details some of the experimental facilities for flight research on Thurleigh airfield.

'Wind Beneath the Wings' [ISBN 978-0-9541594-1-2], illustrated with more than 250 photos, mostly from the BAHG Archive, can be obtained from the author, M D Dobson on 01234 771685, or via email to
Price £15.00 plus p&p.


Touchdown, Safely!

A Boffin’s Tale of All-weather Approach and Landing Research and Flight Trials at RAE Bedford 1966-1986, by R Bruce Lumsden, 2018. 

Bruce Lumsden started work as a research scientist at the Royal Aircraft Establishment (RAE) Bedford in 1966. He has written this memoir (in the author’s words, “very much a personal tale”) about a number of major experimental programmes on which he worked, and about some of his personal recollections of life at RAE Bedford. His work focussed on the challenges of landing aircraft safely in all weather conditions. The book is part historical, part technical and part autobiographical. The RAE was formed at Farnborough in 1918 and celebrates its 100th anniversary in 2018. This book describes some of the contributions that RAE Bedford gave to aviation. 

With 19 chapters, and more than 460 pages, the book begins with the author’s early years at the Blind Landing Experimental Unit (the world-famous “BLEU”), includes a chapter on “RAE Bedford – Origins and its Aircraft”, then covers other subjects as varied as direct-lift control, two-segment approaches, Doppler Microwave Landing System (DMLS), pilot aids and low visibility, the Economic Category 3 (EC3) programme and military precision approach programmes. In his flight research, the author made use of several aircraft: Comet 3B (XP915), HS748 (XW750) and BAC 1-11 (XX105). 

The book is illustrated with many well-produced photographs and numerous diagrams and charts, taken from the author’s technical papers, showing the results of the various trials and experiments undertaken. 

The book will appeal to readers who would like to know more in depth about aspects of autoland and other technology associated with achieving safe landings in all weathers, and about how scientific research programmes are conducted.

It can be purchased (price £25 plus P&P) via BAHG, by sending an email to


 The Life of the Royal Aircraft Establishment

The previously published books “Wings Over Thurleigh” and “Wind Beneath the Wings” provided a record of the research and development undertaken by the Royal Aircraft Establishment Bedford. While the existence of the Establishment and its research facilities enabled the work, the huge technical success which it achieved was due to the dedicated efforts of the many scientists, engineers, aircrew and skilled support staff who worked there.

Michael Dobson has now published a third book which takes a broader look at the Establishment and deals particularly with the personnel and social aspects rather than the science. Entitled “The life of the Royal Aircraft Establishment Bedford” [ISBN 978-0-9541594-2-9] and running to 264 pages, the book supplements the other two and thereby completes a reasonably comprehensive historical record of the Establishment from its creation in the 1940s to its closure in the 1990s.

Copies are now available at £15 plus £5 p&p. Please order initially by contacting Mike Dobson on 01234 771685 or


This page last updated - 11/10/2018

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