Felix, qui potest rerum cognoscere causas
(Fortunate is he, who is able to know the causes of things: Virgil)
The mission of this site is to record the stories of people connected with aviation, from wartime experiences - where young men and women were presented with extraordinary circumstances - to those in peacetime. We're interested in recording what we can of the lives of ordinary people doing ordinary things just as much as those of heroes doing unimaginable deeds.
If this is your first visit to our site: Welcome! We hope you find what you seek here in our pages. At the time of writing (April 2017) we have over 1 million individual records at various levels of detail, but, of course, there are millions more still to be recorded.
We're a group of dedicated editors, researchers, archivists, writers and technical people under the direction of Kelvin T. Youngs who lives in Norfolk, England.
This quest will never be finished, but we are doing our best to cover as much ground as possible. And if any of this inspires you to become part of our team, our door is open. You'll be most welcome. There's a huge amount of 'lost' material to discover and publish, and for the WWll era time is running out for us to capture first-person accounts from men and women who were actually there!
Right: Kelvin Youngs - webmaster 2014.
We've been at this now for some years and over this time our interests have widened from an initial, somewhat narrow focus on the personal histories of WWII pilots, beginning with our own family hero Alek Pietrzak, to today's broad spectrum which embraces all aviation people, from all nations and all eras. What ties this all together is, of course, the magic of flying, the impulse to soar as old as recorded time. We're not above a bit of whimsy either: we even have history's first ever air crash on the site: see if you can find it!
Our site reflects the passions of the wonderful people who build our content in their own time and at their own expense, and includes an extensive collection of aviation and military poetry, much of which is found nowhere else. We encourage you to be inspired, and to fully explore this site.
We like to think we are unique in the lengths we go to in order to produce accounts that make for good reading combined with historical accuracy.
If there is a common trait among our team it is that we are all assiduous pursuers of data trails, so it should be no surprise that we have architected our site to reflect this. Unlike many sites which just present a piece of information by itself, without context, our understanding is that each single piece of information does not, in fact, usually live on its own because it's connected to other information, sometimes tightly as a birthday is to an individual, sometimes less so as a person may be to a wider group, and sometimes completely serendipitously as a plane crash might be to a person who was just passing by at the right time. So when you see something on the site - an entry of a family member in a database, perhaps - do not assume that is all there is to the matter. Dig around other of our databases, search through our treasure trove of Archive Reports and elsewhere on our site. And if you find nothing more, but have something to add from personal knowledge, please don't keep it to yourself. Share it with us so we can share it with the world.
We are proud of the work we do. We strive always for accuracy in all our endeavours, and to conduct ourselves in an intelligent, enquiring and respectful manner. The generous assistance and support we receive from thousands of friends around the world, and the heartfelt response from those families we can help through our research are deeply gratifying.
Senior Research Editor Kate Tame
We are so blessed to work with Kate, who is one of the most respected and experienced aviation genealogists and specialist researchers in the world. With a huge personal library of reference material and hundreds of experienced colleagues to call upon, there is very little she doesn't know how to find.
Senior Research Editor Roy Wilcock
Roy contributes brilliantly researched stories. He has sources that even mystify the rest of us! One of his specialities is what we call longform stories, these being greatly expanded personal histories. An excellent writer, with a knack for memorable phrases, he is also active with schools in his area, bringing the gift of WW2 history to the younger generation.
Senior Research Editor Colin Bamford
Our friend for many years and with us from the very start with his acerbic advice and guidance, Colin Bamford is Canada-based and is responsible for maintaining and adding to the Canadian Geographical Renaming project, as well as contributing meticulously researched stories of the RCAF.
Kracker Luftwaffe Archive
Our special colleague Tom Kracker has spent 20 years research developing material on Luftwaffe flying crew and it was only through our own efforts in processing his raw data that we were able - finally - to jointly present this greatly respected scholarship to the world. Tom is recognized wherever he goes for his wide ranging scholarship. The Kracker Luftwaffe Archive is the largest record of Luftwaffe crew in the world, incorporating whatever biographical details Tom has gleaned from an exhaustive study of books, articles, blogs etc, and has been enhanced by the continuous addition of crew photographs whenever they come to hand.
Paradie Canadian Archive
We are proud to have as our colleague Major Fred Paradie - a serving RCAF officer - and present his scholarship of 40,000+ RCAF personnel serving in WWII (and later) as the Paradie Archive. Fred painstakingly transferred each record by hand from rather poor quality teletype records, an effort that has been described elsewhere as 'monumental'. More recently François Dutil, a senior non-commissioned officer in the RCAF, has enhanced the Archive with thousands of individual photographs along with even more individual records, an effort that is ongoing (as of 2018).
Million+ Data Points Accessible
We have designed this website with a number of special features to make searching and adding information as easy as possible for a relative, and by so doing we hope to encourage as many contributions as possible from relatives, friends and researchers alike. We promise to pay proper attention to every contact we receive.
We publish our own databases using custom-written creation, updating and search software, exclusive to us. We endeavour to ensure each entry is as accurate as we can make it, and actively seek corrections and additions from our readers. We are - we think - unique in the way we build links into our databases to other related material so that readers can follow a data trail where one exists and thus receive an enhanced experience. An example is in our Allied Losses and Incidents Database where we provide links to Archive Reports which give much more detail on a particular loss. Our databases serve thousands of queries weekly and are widely used by the research community across the world. We are always looking for more so if you have lists or spreadsheets with information you think would be useful to others, please do contact us via the Helpdesk and we will see how we can bring your own scholarship to life.
Involvement with Professional Museums Worldwide
Our close association with leading researchers across the world has involved us in ensuring our site is compatible with their advanced research tools by making our metadata accessible. Metadata is fundamental in enabling ubiquitous access to cultural and scientific resources through galleries, libraries, archives and museums (GLAM) but unfortunately, different GLAM traditions in documentation and organization across the world have lead to significant difficulties in automating data exchange. We're doing our bit to overcome this in our field by ensuring we comply with the Dublin Core Metadata Initiative.
We are adding thousands of names to our various databases and with the assistance of readers such as you, have placed thousands of individual pages of remembrance, obituaries, and poetry together with pages of general interest.
The objective is to remember those who served within the aviation story of our past and to create a website that will be online - forever, with the assistance of the British Library Web Archive.
We are non-political and multinational in our approach, and feature material from all nations. This does not imply we sympathise with totalitarian regimes. Our stories are about individual people, not the systems they served.
Research Membership of British Aviation Archaeological Council
One aspect related to aviation history with which we do not involve ourselves directly is aircraft recovery, or aviation archaeology as it is known. We don’t recover aircraft ourselves - there are others who specialise in this, and if you are interested in this area of research be aware there are special restrictions in place to protect what are, after all, often places of rest for fellow humans. Unfortunately there are a few rogue recoverers (you know who you are) in the UK who offer pieces of recovered aircraft for personal profit on auction websites, which we consider to be little better than grave-robbing, and of course, we will have nothing to do with such activity or people. We recommend that those interested in recovery work do so as part of a recognised body in your country. In the UK, one such group would be the British Aviation Archaeological Council, of which we are research members.
We are always looking for new volunteers to assist us in our goals of remembering and honouring - even taking a photo of a memorial or a grave may help us tremendously because some relatives have no idea where their lost ones are buried, let alone having a photo of their last resting place. Imagine what difference a simple photograph that you could take would mean to them, especially if they live thousands of miles away.
We welcome anyone, no matter what experience you may have - all we ask is for you to do your best for the people we remember.
Our technical web creation, management, and database design is managed by Kelvin's brother, Stefan Pietrzak Youngs, who is the son of the Polish fighter ace Aleksander Pietrzak, killed in 1945, and whose memory inspired the creation of Aircrew Remembered. Stefan divides his time between Norwich, England, Palma de Mallorca, Spain and Carmel, California.
We work daily with Peter Sikora, the leading expert in Polish aircrew, and are able to complement his research for his publications with reciprocal arrangements. We also work with leading Polish researchers based in Poland, editors, designers and writers, and have a special relationship with the Polish Aviation Museum in Krakow, which houses the wartime memorabilia and service medals of our family hero Aleksander Pietrzak VM CV and Bar.
The late Rob Philips from the Netherlands, who sadly passed away before completing his mammoth task of detailing every single Dutch aviation loss in WWII, entrusted us with finishing his life work so that it may be published for his family and researchers worldwide. The difficult task of processing over 3000 pages and 5000 images is proceeding slowly but surely.
Our German team includes the well known military history author Willi Weiss.
We are proud to be entrusted by The Daily Telegraph of London to reprint their aviation obituaries.
We closely work with No. 1 BFTS from Terrell Texas where more than 6000 Empire pilots learned to fly in relative safety before posting back to Europe and the Pacific to fight.
I was born in 1972 in Montfort, a small village in the south of Holland. I do almost for some 25 years research after air crashes in and around my village in WWII. I was working as a truck driver, unfortunately 7 years ago I had a big accident and spend for 3 month’s in the hospital. A lot of injuries and can no longer work. I love to help relative of fallen hero’s with info/pictures and sometimes we visited the graves of these hero’s with the family of the fallen. Its a great Adventure to do something back for these great young guy’s who give their own life for our freedom, we will never forget.
We are glad to work with Colin Bain from South Africa on various pages of remembrance.
It's our pleasure to work with David Mole from Newcastle on various pages of remembrance and for arranging many memorials to crews on behalf of relatives.
George McKillop from Canada, an ex-RCAF 408 Squadron member, has offered us valued advice and information.
We Don't Just Write About Flying
Our team includes active flyers. Major Fred Paradie spends his work hours hurtling around the skies for the RCAF in the F-18 Hornet. Our researcher John Hoyte was a Training Captain flying for an international airline and today runs a much sought-after flight simulator company where he can teach you to dogfight the Spitfire (among a whole bevy of aircraft types), and our lead technical guru Stefan Pietrzak Youngs is a qualified General Aviation pilot, who once performed fast barrel rolls over the Queen Mary moored in Long Beach Harbor, California as a way of showing his mother (sitting white-knuckled beside him) what her husband Alec Pietrzak must have done in his wartime Mustang (needless to say, she was not amused.)
None of our volunteers receives financial rewards and all carry out their research totally in their spare time. Why not join us? You can do as much or as little as you want.
Kelvin Youngs and all the members of the team at Aircrew Remembered