In the UK there has been for a long time now a strong, broadly based and active movement for the presentation of all kinds of historic aircraft. The fact that so many historic aircraft are maintained in flying condition reflects favourably on the enthusiasm of owners and preservation groups. The high attendance at air shows reflects the popularity for display of airworthy historic aircraft.
In 1978, the Civil Aviation Authority was faced with the increasing cost of ‘certificating’ a growing number of historic aircraft, by providing their owners with Permits to Fly. Quality technical information on which the CAA could rely upon was needed. The CAA was faced with either spending a lot of money on research to establish proof of low risk, or leave it in the hands of owners to make recommendations to the Authority.
To keep costs as low as possible for owners and Authority alike, CAA certification test pilot at the time, Darrol Stinton collected a group of trusted advisers, who had a wide range of experience, and who were acceptable to the Authority as good eggs . The group was never an elite, because the CAA would not have allowed it to be. This group comprised a number of respected test pilots as well as several owners of historic aircraft. Its main purpose was to provide a depository of technical knowledge and expertise, available for use by the CAA, but beyond reach of its control. The group was identified as the Historic Aircraft Association, with a private membership that had to be reliable and self-sustaining, otherwise it would not have been accepted as a practical organisation with an authoritative voice.
In the early years the HAA had a vital role to play in exercising its considerable influence on the conduct of air displays. Today these responsibilities lie with air show organisers and the regulatory authorities. The HAA continues to act in an advisory role to ensure a disciplined and careful approach in the flying of historic aircraft is upheld. This advisory role includes technical briefings as part of its meetings, which have been printed, published, and today are posted on this website as a way of spreading knowledge.
The Historic Aircraft Association today comprises members who have a passion for the continuing flight operations of historic, vintage, veteran, heritage and war-bird aircraft. The HAA works to promote and protect the interests of its members, and the owners, operators, and maintainers of historic aircraft within the wider aviation community.
In the belief that the freedoms enjoyed under existing legislation will only be retained for as long as they are applied in a reasonable manner, the HAA seeks to provide sensible display flying disciplines through a voluntary code of conduct. Much is owed to the flexibility and pragmatism of the European Aviation Safety Agency through its existing legislation and regulations administered by the UK CAA. The reasonable interpretation and implementation of these regulations and rules is a result of the influence exercised by the HAA.
The HAA seeks to provide knowledge and information through its membership in the pursuit of the highest skills and standards of airmanship. It works to assist operators in the best practices of maintenance of historic aircraft in the UK that will contribute towards the safety and longevity of the active aviation heritage in the UK. The HAA also works closely with other aviation organisations that share common interests in the flying and preservation of historic and heritage aircraft, to provide corporate strength in matters that are of concern to the wider historic aircraft community.