A Flying Life: An Enthusiast’s Photographic Record of British Aviation in the 1930s consists of photographs that were taken by E. J. Riding, the author’s father, who spent his working life in the aviation industry. He was apprenticed to A. V. Roe & Company and employed as an aircraft engineer up to the war. During the war, Riding became an AID inspector and was seconded to Fairey Aviation, London Aircraft Production and the de Havilland Aircraft Company, latterly signing out Halifax bombers and Mosquitoes as airworthy and ready for test flying. Sadly, Riding was killed in a flying accident in 1950.
During his short life, he gained a lasting reputation as an engineer, professional photographer, draughtsman and aero modeller. Riding began taking photographs of aircraft in 1931, aged fifteen. Fortunately, he kept copious notes recording the locations and dates of when and where aircraft were photographed. More importantly, he noted aircraft colour schemes, details rarely recorded by the press at the time. The aircraft types photographed by Riding ranged from the Tiger Moth, RAF fighters, ultra-lights to airliners, the whole giving a good cross-section of flying in Britain up to the outbreak of the Second World War.
The book’s photographs are of excellent quality and do not all consist of sterile bog-standard side views. Many depict aircraft being stripped for maintenance and servicing, others show aircraft dumped or after having crashed. Although approached in a generally light-hearted manner, the book features in-depth and informative captions.
Richard Riding was born in 1942 and employed as an aerial photographer during 1958-62. He was a freelance photographer in 1962-71, specialising in aerial photography and photographing pop singers for Polydor Records. Riding joined the editorial staff of Flight International magazine in 1971-73 and founded Aeroplane Monthly in 1973. Previous books include Ultralights – The Early British Classics (Patrick Stephens, 1987), Elstree Aerodrome: An Illustrated History (co-written with Grant Peerless, 2003), Leavesden Aerodrome: From Halifaxes to Hogwarts (co-written with Grant Peerless, 2011). Plus hundreds of aviation articles published in Aeroplane Monthly.