de Havilland Aeronautical Technical School Association

The de Havilland Aeronautical Technical School

The de Havilland Aeronautical Technical School was formed at Stag Lane, Edgware in 1928 by the then Captain (later Sir) Geoffrey de Havilland and Mr Frank Hearle. The initial emphasis was on the training of ground engineers. By 1930 the school was well established. About 100 engineers had passed through and were beginning to spread around the world, as too was the Moth series of light aircraft.

The School headquarters moved to Hatfield in 1934, soon after the establishment of the new airfield there, but some aspects of training continued at Stag Lane. The curriculum expanded rapidly to cover the full range of aircraft design, manufacture and operation. The instructors were all practising engineers in the Company, thus students were actively in touch with current problems and techniques. The T.K. series of light aircraft was designed and built between 1932 and 1939, some being flown by Company pilots in events such as the King's Cup Races.

During 1940 the School had to move from Hatfield when its premises were destroyed by fire after a German bombing raid. After a spell in nearby Welwyn Garden City, it moved in 1941 to Salisbury Hall, where the prototype Mosquitos were designed and built, now the home of The de Havilland Aircraft Museum. In 1947-48 the School was progressively transferred to Astwick Manor, on the north-eastern border of Hatfield airfield. The Company was absorbed into Hawker Siddeley Aviation in 1963 and in 1965 the School was renamed the Hawker Siddeley Aviation (Hatfield) Apprentice Training School.

In addition to Stag lane and Hatfield, there were also Schools at Portsmouth, Christchurch, Chester, Leavesden and Lostock. Articles have been contributed about all these places except Leavesden - see sidebar.

There is a DHAeTS Display in the ‘Foremans Office’ at the de Havilland Aircraft Museum, which is next to Salisbury Hall near London Colney.

Today there is a thriving Association of former DHAeTS students from all the Schools, with over 400 members world-wide. It is run by a standing small committee led by Roger de Mercado as Chairman and Secretary. Roger Coasby is our Treasurer and members are Ken Watkins, Garth Rogers, Ken Pye, Russ Nathan, Philip Birtles and Alan Lee. Our President is Ian Newton.

In 2022 members of the disbanded Hatfield Aviation Association, which previously had absorbed the Hatfield 40 Year and 20 year Club members, were invited to join DHAeTSA and some have done so. A number were already members of DHAeTSA having served apprenticeships.

Newsletters are issued three times a year. The majority are sent by email as pdf, but printed copies are supplied by post to those unable to receive email. The most recent were No. 84, Autumn 2022, No. 85, Spring 2023 and No. 86, Summer 2023.  Any member who has missed a copy should contact us (click on the tab above). We also compile an occasional issue of “Pylon”, (see article Pylon Magazine) to which members contribute articles about their experiences ranging from student years to later careers or about particularly interesting projects with which they were involved (some relating to previously unreported events!).

The objective of this website is to promote world-wide awareness of the Association, to provide up to date information and to serve as an on-line repository of historical material relating to the de Havilland Aeronautical Technical School.

Anyone who entered the School up to and including the 1965 intake is eligible and invited cordially to join - click on "Contact us" for membership information. To ensure the continuance of the heritage of the School we also welcome enquiries about membership from apprentices who were indentured after this date, to HSA or to BAe.

Page last updated 12 Sep 2023