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Charles Grey Grey

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Charles Grey Grey (1875-1953), founder of the Aeroplane


1953 Obituary.[1]

Many in the aircraft industry must, like ourselves, have been saddened by the news of the passing of C. G. Grey on Wednesday, December 9th. On the day before he died he lunched, as on so many previous occasions, with colleagues and friends of the Circle of Aviation Writers.

At the time of his death he was attending a reception at the Admiralty. He was 78 years old, and for the last year or two had been in indifferent health; yet, though he often joked about what he thought should be written in his own obituary, his many friends had come to regard him as well nigh indestructible.

Charles Grey Grey will be remembered in particular as the founder of the Aeroplane Magazine and as its editor until 1939. He was born on November 13th, 1875, and was educated at the Erasmus Smith School, Dublin. He trained as an engineer at the Crystal Palace School of Engineering, and subsequently joined the staff of The Autocar.

In his own Story of "The Aeroplane," he describes how, as a member of the staff of The Autocar, at Christmas, 1908, he was sent by the editor to report the world's first aero show in Paris; and as a result of his report he was called upon by Iliffe and Sons, to edit a penny weekly aviation paper called The Aero.

In 1911, in partnership with Mr. E. V. (Later Sir Victor) Sassoon, he founded The Aeroplane, of which he retained the editorship until 1939. His editorship of Jane's All the World's Aircraft dated from 1916 and continued until 1941, and from 1939 he was air correspondent of the Yorkshire Evening News, Lancashire Evening Post, Edinburgh Evening News, and various overseas journals. His books included A History of the British Air Ministry (1940), The Luftwaffe (1944) and The Civil Air War (1945). He was a founder-member and Honorary Companion of the Royal Aeronautical Society.

Anyone who read C.G. in the twenties and thirties without having met him might have supposed that his critical references, and sometimes perverse and acid comments, reflected his nature and personality. Nothing could have been further from the truth. As long as we knew him he was a gentle and kindly man, always charming and generous to his friends, among whom he numbered rivals. Principal of these for many years was, of course, the late Stanley Spooner, founder-editor of our own journal. At a dinner in 1930 to mark 21 years of Flight, C.G. said he was reminded of the story of the little boy who, on being seen playing by himself, was asked if he had no little friends and who answered: "Yes, I have one, but I hate him." He had, he said, only one enemy — Stanley Spooner — and he loved him.

Today there are men on Flight's staff who recall a kind word of encouragement here or a spot of advice there from the one-and-only C.G., particularly when they were taking their first tentative steps in the hard and competitive world of journalism. His goodwill continued to be reflected in frequent correspondence.

From the first to the last occasion upon which we talked to him, he never once failed to express either an original thought or to reveal an unexpected viewpoint on some current topic. Neither his writing nor his conversation was ever lacking in humour.

Regardless of one's age, Charles Grey was indeed an interesting companion as well as being the first great aviation journalist.


1953 Obituary [2]

IT is with regret that we record the death of Mr. Charles Grey Grey, aged seventy-eight, founder of the Aeroplane, which occurred suddenly after his arrival at an Admiralty reception on Wednesday, December 9th.

Mr. Grey had been an ardent champion of air transport from its earliest days, and was a founder member of the Royal Aeronautical Society. As early as 1908 he was detailed to watch the development of flying machines on behalf of the Autocar, and three years later, in association with Sir Victor Sassoon, he founded the Aeroplane, of which he remained the editor until 1939.

His association with the late F. T. Jane commenced shortly after the founding of the Aeroplane, and in 1916, upon the death of Jane, he received a half share in the publication, which has since been known as All the World's Aircraft. Until his resignation in 1941 this publication was compiled in the offices of the Aeroplane.

During the Years after 1939 he had been air correspondent to the Edinburgh Evening News, Yorkshire Evening News, Lancashire Daily Post, and other papers here and overseas.

He was the author of several historical and technical books on aviation subjects, Mr. Grey was born in Regent's Park, London, on November 13, 1875, and after attending the Erasmus Smith School, Dublin, proceeded to the Crystal Palace School of Engineering.


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