View Full Version : Preserving the Voices & Sounds of Aviation

13th Jun 2003, 02:29
Instead of reading a dusty old book, imagine you could hear participants tell it like it was, in their own words. Collecting audio aviation oral history recordings can sound like such a boring sideline. But when youíre hearing sounds and voices, some that havenít been heard in years it becomes fascinating.

Last year Lost and Found Aviation Sounds was established to help preserve the sounds and voices of aviation history. Despite being a small team we recently worked on rare wire recordings found in a Washington DC basement, the recordings were interviews with the team that broke the sound barrier in 1947. The tapes had been forgotten for onwards of 25 years, until a member of LAFAS, a sound engineer in Washington DC found them. What makes these recordings special are that they include not just Chuck Yeager, but other people intimately involved with the X-1 test program. Many of these people have long since pasted on, but these tapes recorded at the time; allow their voices to describe the events while they are still "raw" in their own minds. Audio extracts available on our website (www.one-voice.co.uk/lafas).

Following a recent piece in a North American aviation journal, a visitor to the LAFAS website sent a cassette filled with interesting material relating to the P47 Thunderbolt flown by his father with the 9th AAF during WW2. Of prime interest to him was a wartime interview recorded with his late father, and broadcast back in his hometown. The original 78 record made of brittle shellac had miraculously survived the war and was found by the son in the archives of a well-known aviation museum. After copying it to cassette he sent it to us to clean up, removing where possible the clicks and hiss to improve the audio quality. An mp3 version of the interview is available to download from our website.

We're always looking for help in finding "new" material to add to the archive and make sure it is preserved. Do you know of anyone or any museums in your area that might have sound recordings tucked away and forgotten in their archives?


Chris Butterfield

Lost and Found Aviation Sounds
Web: www.one-voice.co.uk/lafas
email: [email protected]

"Lost and Found Aviation Sounds" is run on a purely voluntary basis, we fund the project ourselves and volunteers donate their time and skills free of charge.

Tartan Giant
15th Jun 2003, 03:53
Hello Chris,

The idea of preserving historic voice records is great. So much has been lost to the world by complacency and apathy about our aviation heritage.

Imagine if we had the R/T exchanges between the first deH Comet service and ATC or the like.

I know that IWM Duxford engaged a film maker to produce some "touch screen" technology for the new British Hanger and that some notable Dan Air airmen and women took part who had flown the Avro York, Ambassador and Comet.
Maybe later on this year you can visit Duxford and relive some of their experiences ?

Keep up the good work.

Best wishes


15th Jun 2003, 10:32
One of the collectors items in broadcasting is a recording of a full day of a major Washington, DC, radio station made around 1940. It was _not_ a typical day however, having a speach by Pres. Roosevelt and other specials.

Your audio preservation group should get a full day's tower radio traffic from some airport like LHR, JFK, or even some busy smaller airport. Having a whole day available for public access should be interesting.

Is there a means for gaining access to the logging recordings? How far back do they go?