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Meet the Author: Peter Cooper



Get to know Peter Cooper, the author behind our FIA75 blog series. As one of our longstanding airshow photographers, Peter was the perfect choice to research and write these blogs. With his extensive knowledge of the airshow and history of aviation at Farnborough, Peter’s insights have proved invaluable to the research and development of our 75-year celebration.


I was born under the approach to runway 25 at Farnborough in Farley House, the maternity unit, attached to the Farnborough and Cove Memorial Hospital.

The flat we lived in along the A325 Camberley to Farnham Road was directly under RAE runway 29, so really, I had no chance except live and breathe aeroplanes! My father, of Naval Air Department fame, knew all the aircraft types to be seen and I too soon learnt them all. 

My passion for RAE aircraft started at an early age but when I left school at 16 it was off to an aircraft apprenticeship at the Royal Aircraft Establishment, Farnborough. This was it, I was going to learn about, and be let loose, on real aeroplanes. It was a second to none apprenticeship and upon completion five years later I had become a fully-fledged airframe fitter.

Staying at RAE for a further nine months, the outside world was beckoning and I secured a job with Airwork Ltd, on a two-year contract, to work on the new BAC Lightnings that were then being delivered to Saudi Arabia. That was tough working it that environment especially with 40 degrees in the summer.

Returning home in 1971 I was employed by Airclaims Ltd in London as an aircraft data analyst providing data for the London Aviation Insurance Market. But after two years this was all to change as my engineering knowledge provided the impetus to transfer to the Survey Department. This I did and it started me on a 42-year career travelling the world surveying a plethora of damaged aircraft. In 1977 I was seconded by the company to New Zealand to start up a local branch, which I ran for a further three years and returned home in 1981 to continue working as an Aviation Insurance Surveyor.

During all this time, my passion for aircraft of the RAE and their histories did not wane. I retired in 2013 but have continued to work as a volunteer for the Farnborough Air Sciences Trust Museum and as a flying display photographer for Farnborough International.

My son, Rich Cooper, who is also an aviation photographer has contributed some of the photographs included in the FIA75 blog series. He is a director of the Centre of Aviation Photography (COAP), an on-line photographic business. He has been taking aircraft photos since about the age of seven and is currently one of the FIA photographers.


Peter has written two previous books on the history of Farnborough and its aircraft:

  • Farnborough – Flying the Limits 1904-1996 published by Hikoki in 1996 ISBN 0-95619899-3-6
  • Farnborough – 100 years of Aviation published by Midland in 2006 ISBN 1-85780-239-X

Although completely sold-out now, copies can be found on Amazon or eBay.


Check out Peter's blogs celebrating 75 years of Farnborough International Airshow History:

Part 1: The Emergence of Farnborough (1948-1972)

Part 2: Putting the International in FIA (1973-1997)

Part 3: Pioneering the Future (1998-2023)

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