Skip to main content

Ken Aedy - memoirs header

When alumnus Mark Aedy (College of St Hild and St Bede, Geography, 1979) mentioned the idea of publishing his late father’s memoirs as a Royal Air Force pilot to Grace Norman in our Alumni Relations Office, she suggested to him that the University could support him.

Squadron Leader Ken Aedy pictured in the centre of the crew

Following that conversation in 2022, Grace contacted our Careers and Enterprise team who, delighted to offer such a career defining opportunity to a Durham student, worked closely with Mark to find the best candidate to complete the project.

Mark was pleased and surprised at the level of interest in the role, for which there were over 30 strong applications. The candidate selected was second year history student, Katherine Chapman. Her role was to engage with museums (amongst them the Imperial War Museum and the RAF museum) to find archival images and fact check details. She worked closely with Mark through the Summer of 2023 to complete the book ‘From Bi-Planes to Fighter Jets’.  

Laura Dorian, Deputy Director for Careers and Enterprise, told us;   

“We’re delighted that Katherine’s internship has been so successful. Internships can be an excellent way of providing a flexible resource to achieve business goals, whilst also supporting the student to achieve the knowledge, skills and experiences necessary to enter a competitive graduate labour market”.   

Squadron Leader Ken Aedy 

Ken Aedy had quietly compiled his memoirs to pass on to his grandchildren before his passing in 2001. His fascinating narrative and some family photos, together with lots of drawings, photographs and paintings acquired by Katharine from museums and the RAF, formed the basis of the book.  

The story began when Ken Aedy joined the RAF in 1942 aged 18 and whilst still at university. He was trained in Oklahoma by the US Army Air Corps before returning to join Bomber Command in the UK, where he flew Wellington bombers in 1944 and Lancaster bombers in 1945 in missions over Germany. He also dropped food supplies into Holland as part of Operation Manna and escorted returning Prisoners of War back to the UK.  

When the war in Europe ended in May 1945, Ken was still only 20 years old. 

Ken continued his career with the RAF after the war ended. He was posted to Egypt at the time of Israel’s independence in 1948, he participated in the Berlin airlift and in the first ever Battle of Britain Flypast over Buckingham Palace. During the fifties, he transitioned on to flying jets; first the Meteor, then the Hunter and finally his favourite, the Javelin. He served in Germany and then Cyprus during the emerging Middle East crisis.  

Squadron Leader Ken Aedy retired in the mid-seventies after a long and full career, during which he had witnessed both political turmoil and rapid technological advances.  

Katherine Chapman 

For Katherine, the experience has been invaluable;  

“Honestly, this summer has been amazing and so unreal. I’ve made loads of new contacts, handled lots of incredible documents, made trips and enquiries. I am thrilled that Mark and his sister Penny and the publishers are so pleased with the outcome and the reception to the book. This is definitely something I’d love to do more of and I’m very grateful to have had the experience.” (Katherine Chapman). 

Ken Aedy - pile of finished booksFollowing Katharine’s successful internship and final works by the publisher, Squadron Leader Ken Aedy’s memoirs ‘From Bi-Planes to Fast Jets’ was published on 29th May 2024, to raise valuable funds for the RAF Benevolent Fund. The launch was at the RAF Club, Piccadilly, London, where the book was extremely well received. 

“Honouring my father’s memory was extremely important to me, but to do this by offering an opportunity to a talented student made the project even more worthwhile” (Mark Aedy) 


Mark is contributing to a series of podcasts (linked below) and will be attending the Chalke History Festival, near Salisbury, on 24 June to support the book.  


Mark Aedy 

Mark Aedy is a keen supporter of the University. He is part of our Campaign Board, working closely with the Development and Alumni Relations team to encourage the transformational opportunities that can be facilitated for students by the alumni community. 


Read more: