RAF commmemorative cover produced to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of the first ARIES Polar Flight made in 1945 in a specially converted Avro Lancaster. The artwork of the cover by Tony Theobald shows the original route of the first ARIES Polar Flight from RAF Shawbury to Iceland then on to the North Pole and return. The badge of RAF Shawbury is shown to the right and around the map the various aircraft that have flown the route over the years are shown; the specially modified ARIES Avro Lancaster, ARIES II & III were both Avro Lincolns, ARIES IV & V EE Canberra B2 & PR7, later flights were made by G D Aerosystems using HP Hastings, Bristol Britannia, DeHavilland Comet, Lockheed C-130 Hercules and Vickers VC 10 aircraft.
This was the first British flight over the North Pole - RAF Shawbury was the home of navigation excellence being the home of the Empire Air Navigation School with aircraft being modified by RAE Farnborough. The first ARIES flight covered 24,000 miles in 110 flying hours and was first airborne comprehensive scientific investigations. The success of the flight resulted in the award of three Air Force Crosses to the pilot and navigators.
Cover bears 19p Sir Rowland Hill stamp cancelled with BFPS 2483 20 November 1995 the 75th Anniversary of the first RAF Navigation Course.
Hand signed by H. B. Dean, electrician on the original ARIES flight
Cover size 210mm x 110mm
Wing Commander McKinley's crew comprises Squadron Leader J. F. Davis, D.F.C., navigator; Flight Lieutenant N. B. Blakey, D.F.C., navigator; Flight Lieutenant R. L. Butt, radar; Flying Officer A. C. Shipway, D.F.C., second pilot; Flying Officer H. Stringer, wireless operator; Leading Aircraftmen E. Wiggins, engineer; E. Pashley, rigger; H. B. Dean, electrician.