R. E. G. Davies

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Ronald Edward George Davies (3 July 1921 – 30 July 2011) was an English specialist in airline and air transport history, and commercial aviation economic research.

Educated at Shaftesbury Grammar School, he started work in London in 1938, and was in the British Army as a territorial volunteer from 1939 to 1946. He spent a year in Iceland, training for mountain and Arctic warfare, and drove his machine-gun carrier on to the beach in Normandy in 1944. According to the New York Times, Davies made his first airplane trip in 1948.[1] Subsequently he worked for the Ministry of Civil Aviation, British European Airways, the Bristol Aeroplane Company and de Havilland before moving to the United States in 1968 to lead market research for Douglas Aircraft. A lifelong aviation enthusiast, Davies dedicated his work to different aspects of the airline industry, including traffic forecasting, and specializing in its history. He researched airlines at the National Air and Space Museum as the Charles A. Lindbergh Chair in Aerospace History in 1981–1982.

Davies was responsible, alongside artist Mike Machat, for the book series An Airline and its Aircraft, about selected airlines' histories, including the types flown. His writing led him to found Paladwr Press, which published 38 books of classic airline histories and biographies.

Well travelled to more than a hundred countries (including all seven continents), Davies was a member of three British Royal Societies, the Explorers Club, and others in France and Brazil. He enjoyed a 30-year career as the Curator of Air Transport at the Smithsonian Institution's National Air and Space Museum,[2][3] at an age when most men are retired, and continued to write and publish airline history throughout that time. He played a leading role in the Washington Airline Society, lectured widely across the USA and beyond, and provided constant assistance to airline researchers. His 25th book - and swan song - Airlines of the Jet Age: A History (for the Smithsonian Institution Scholarly Press) was published in July 2011, just before he died aged 90.

After his long (over 60 years) career in aviation, Ron Davies returned to England to live in his Hertfordshire home with his wife, Marjorie, and be near his two daughters and two grandsons. As well as his lifelong interest in aviation, Ron enjoyed traditional jazz, wrote one novel, and had hoped to write a book about his home town of Shaftesbury during his retirement.


Major References[edit]

  • A History of the World's Airlines (Oxford Univ. Press, 1964) (two reprints)
  • Airlines of the United States Since 1914 (Putnam & Co., 1972)
  • Airlines of Latin America Since 1919 (Putnam, 1983) (two reprints)
  • Airlines of Asia Since 1920 (Putnam, 1997)
  • Airlines of the Jet Age: A History (Smithsonian Institution Scholarly Press, 2011)

Library-type reading[edit]

  • Rebels and Reformers of the Airways (Smithsonian, 1987)
  • Fallacies and Fantasies of Air Transport History (Paladwr, 1994)
  • Supersonic (Airliner) Non-Sense (Paladwr, 1998)
  • Continental Airlines (Pioneer, 1984)

Full-color pictorials[edit]

  • Pan Am (Orion, 1987) (reprinted Paladwr, 1991)
  • Delta Air Lines (Paladwr, 1990)
  • Lufthansa (Orion,1988) (reprinted Paladwr, 1991)
  • Aeroflot (Paladwr, 1992)
  • Saudi Arabian Airlines (Paladwr, 1995)
  • Transbrasil (English and Portuguese text) (Paladwr, 1997)
  • Charles Lindbergh (Paladwr, 1997)
  • TWA (Paladwr, 2000)
  • Eastern Airlines (Paladwr, 2003)
  • British Airways - the Imperial Years, 1919-1939 (Paladwr, 2005)
  • TACA (English and Spanish text) Paladwr, 2008)
  • The Chelyuskin Adventure (English and Russian text) (Paladwr, 2005)

Further Books written by Davies[edit]

  • Lufthansa: An Airline and Its Aircraft, Orion Books[1]
  • Delta: An Airline and Its Aircraft, Paladwr Press[1]
  • A History of the World's Airlines[1]
  • Airlines of the United States Since 1914[1]
  • Airlines of Latin America Since 1919[1]


  • with Imre E. Quastler, Commuter Airlines of the United States (Smithsonian, 1995) (Reference)
  • with John Provan, Berlin Airlift: The Effort and the Aircraft (Paladwr, 1998) (Pictorial)
  • with Philip J. Birtles, De Havilland Comet: The World's First Jet Airliner (Paladwr, 1999) (Pictorial)
  • with Thomas Wildenberg, Howard Hughes: An Airman, His Aircraft, and His Great Flights (Paladwr, 2006) (Pictorial)


  1. ^ a b c d e f "Book Notes". New York Times. 12 June 1991. Retrieved 2010-12-26. R.E.G. Davies made his first airplane trip in 1948, ... 
  2. ^ Robert Ahrens; Anne R. Carey; Jerry Mosemak; Dan Vergano (2009-10-29). "100 years in the air started with Zeppelin's passenger service". USA Today. Retrieved 2010-12-26. Really, it was sort of a desperation measure," said historian Ron Davies of the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C. "He couldn't sell enough of his zeppelins to the military, so he decided to sell tickets. 
  3. ^ SCOTT MCCARTNEY (20 June 2006). "Revisiting the Grand Canyon Crash 50 Years Later". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 2010-12-26. But in aviation and in many other endeavors, said R.E.G. Davies, curator at the Smithsonian Institution's Air & Space Museum, "it's only when something sensational happens that anything gets done."