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Air Vice-Marshall Ron Dick Collection

Identifier: MS-494

Scope and Contents

This collection contains an array of materials related to the Royal Air Force career of Air Vice-Marshal Ronald Dick and his later life as an aviation author and lecturer in the United States. The materials range from his articles and lectures on aviation history to materials specifically related to and his career in the Royal Air Force as a pilot, commander, and air attaché. The collection is organized into nine series and three subseries.

Series I, Personal Information, spanning a period from 1948 to 2008, contains general information about Ron Dick. Of particular notes is a Ron Dick biography and a DVDCD “Ron Dick, A Celebration of a Life Well Lived.” The series also contains a few diaries and planners, along with a number of certificates of recognition. Also included are newspaper clippings concerning his various postings in the Royal Air Force and correspondence concerning his participation is such organizations as the Royal Aeronautical Society and the Society of Military Historians.

Series II, Public Speaking and Writings, is a large series spanning from 1950 to 2007, with the bulk being from 1985 to 2007. The series contains many of Ron Dick’s numerous speeches and lectures before and after his retirement from the military. Ron was in demand as a guest speaker at the Air Force’s Air University in Montgomery, Alabama, as well as traveling lecturer with a number of cruise lines. This series contains research for his various lectures and articles, along with correspondence from various organizations requesting him as a lecturer. Of particular note is a copy of the book “The American Century,” written by Ron and Dan Patterson. Along with the book, there is research, speaking information requests, and other general information.

Series III, Correspondence, spanning 1950 to 2007, contains hundreds of formal invitations from various officials, ambassadors, generals from all over the world, and even Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, along with informal invitations from friends and family. There is a limited number of letters from Ron to a few people.

Subseries IV, Travels, covers the period from 1953 to 2006. The series contains documents related to Dick’s personal travels and his free time on tour around the world with his wife, Pauline.

Series V, Military Career, is another large series that spans Ron’s entire military career and beyond – 1942 to 2008. The series contains materials about Ron Dick’s career from military school to his work in the British Embassy in Washington, D.C. It includes correspondence, base visits, officer reports, and programs. There are also course materials from the Royal College of Defense Studies and various flight materials, such as manuals and pilot’s notes.

Series VI, Programs, contains event programs and information guides from 1946 to 2004. There are visitor programs and itineraries from Dick’s visits to various air force bases and for visits from royal family members to the bases where he was assigned. Of note in this series are programs for the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II and the funeral for Sir Winston Churchill.

Series VII, Audio-Visual Materials, spans 1938 to 2005, and is divided into three subseries. Subseries VIIA, Slides, are a collection of photographic slides concerning Ron Dick’s travels and slides accompanying his various lectures. Subseries VIIB, Photographs, is the largest of the subseries. It contains hundreds of photos and negatives regarding Dick’s travels around the world, events he attended, and many personal photos of his early life, including some wedding photos. Subseries VIIC, Film, consists of mostly 16mm films concerning various flights that Ron Dick may have taken. A majority of the films are dated, but some are unknown.

Series VIII, Scrapbooks, contains nine scrapbooks and four files of material for incomplete scrapbooks. The scrapbooks contain photographs of aircraft, people, family members, and some newspaper clippings span a period from 1944 to 1997. Of particular note are two scrapbooks: one concerns the restoration of a B-17G and its subsequent flight to the United Kingdom for display in 1983 and the second concerns a Flying Tigers Association tour to China led by Ron in 1997.

Series IX, Memorabilia, spans the period 1957 to 2004. The series contains plaques and other mementoes concerning his Royal Air Force career and his life as a guest lecturer.


  • 1938-2008

Conditions Governing Access

Due to preservation concerns, original film and VHS tapes in Subseries VC cannot be played in the reading room. Patrons may have access to reference copies. Items without reference copies can be digitized at the request of a patron for the cost of creating a digital copy. Please provide us at least two weeks advance notice if you would like to request an audio or video reference copy. Call (937) 775-2092 or e-mail us at Use of digitized content is subject to conditions governing use.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright restrictions may apply. Unpublished manuscripts are protected by copyright. Permission to publish, quote, or reproduce must be secured from the repository and the copyright holder.

Biographical / Historical

Air Vice-Marshal Ronald Dick, who died at age 76, served in the RAF as a fighter pilot and a Vulcan bomber squadron commander before settling in the United States, where he launched a second career as a lecturer and writer on aviation history.

Dick had the unusual experience of filling two senior appointments at the British Embassy in Washington. He was appointed air attaché in 1980, a post he held for two years. At the time of the Falklands War in 1982, he played a major role in negotiating support for British air operations.

Then, after a brief period at the Ministry of Defense, he returned to Washington as an air Vice-Marshal in November 1984 in the roles of head of the British Defense Staff and defense attaché, remaining for another three years.

During his second term at the embassy, he was deeply involved in discussions and negotiations on American-led initiatives on disarmament that eventually led to the end of the Cold War.

Throughout his time in the United States Dick was able to pursue his interests in aviation history and flying vintage and classic aircraft. He and his family developed a great love for America, where he was immensely popular, and on his retirement from the RAF, they decided to settle near Washington.

He was appointed a Smithsonian international fellow at the National Air and Space Museum and a visiting lecturer in air power history at the USAF Air University at Maxwell, Alabama.

Ronald Dick was born on October 18, 1931 at Newcastle upon Tyne, but spent his boyhood in London. As a nine-year old, he saw the front of his house demolished by a German bomb and watched Hurricane fighters engaging Luftwaffe bombers.

From that moment, he always wanted to be a fighter pilot. He was educated at Beckenham and Penge County Grammar School, and in 1949 was awarded a cadetship to the RAF College, Cranwell, where he trained as a pilot.

Dick was commissioned in 1952 and soon established himself as an excellent fighter pilot. He flew Meteors with No 64 Squadron, becoming a member of its formation aerobatic team. His skill as a solo aerobatic pilot was recognized when, in 1955, he won the Clarkson trophy, awarded to the best aerobatic pilot at the Central Flying School. A year later he won the Wright Jubilee trophy, competed for annually by the RAF's flying instructors.

After serving on the examining wing of the Central Flying School, Dick spent the next three years as a flying instructor with the USAF in Alabama. With the demise of so many RAF fighter squadrons following the Sandys defense review, Dick's flying career took a new turn in 1962 when he became the flight commander of No IX Squadron, operating the Vulcan nuclear bomber.

In 1970, he returned to command the squadron when it was based at Akrotiri, on Cyprus. During a visit to New Zealand, he flew at air shows, displaying the exceptional maneuverability and low-lying characteristics of the big bomber.

Dick served as military assistant to the Deputy Supreme Allied Commander Europe and in 1978 was appointed to command RAF Honington, the base for three Buccaneer squadrons. He flew the tactical bomber regularly and led detachments to the USAF "Red Flag" tactical training facility at Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada. In July 1980, he left for his first appointment in Washington.

He retired from the RAF in 1988, when he was appointed CB. He had previously been awarded a Queen's Commendation for Valuable Services in the Air (1973). In 1987, he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Aeronautical Society.

Dick's passion for flying never wavered, and he took every opportunity to fly, even when fulfilling ground appointments. In 1983 he piloted a restored B-17 Flying Fortress bomber from California across the United States and the Atlantic to the Imperial War Museum at Duxford. He also flew American fighters, including the P-40 Warhawk and the P-51 Mustang, and he continued to fly his Tiger Moth until shortly before his death.

His extensive knowledge of aviation history was quickly recognized. He advised the makers of the film Memphis Belle, the story of a USAAF B-17 bomber crew in the Second World War.

Working with the renowned aviation photographer Dan Patterson, he wrote several acclaimed books, including “American Eagles,” a history of the USAF and published to celebrate the service's 50th anniversary.

In 2003, after nine years of research, Dick published “The Aviation Century,” the first of a five-volume history, which was completed in 2006. In addition to accounts of aircraft, pioneering flights and air combat, the work included 400 portraits and profiles of great personalities in aviation.

He also wrote numerous books on British aircraft, including the Lancaster and the Hurricane.

In 2005, Dick had the distinction of chairing the 44th annual enshrinement ceremony at the US National Aviation Hall of Fame, widely known as "America's Oscar Night of Aviation". He was in great demand as a lecturer on cruise liners, and for many years led Smithsonian military and aviation heritage tours to Britain and Europe. He was a vice-president of the Vulcan Crew Chiefs' Association.

Dick was a tall, distinguished-looking and gently spoken man who laughed easily. His leadership style - based on a quiet authority, imposing presence, professional knowledge and caring attitude - was very effective and made him a popular and respected commander.

In later life, to those who used his rank when they addressed him, he would respond: "Please, it's just Ron."

He was a keen and knowledgeable ornithologist and a supporter of wildlife conservation.

Ron Dick died at his home in Virginia on March 25, 2008. He married, in 1955, Pauline (Paul) Lomax, who survives him with their son, Gary, and daughter, Peta.

“Air Vice-Marshal Ron Dick.” The Telegraph, April 9, 2008. Accessed June 3, 2015.


20 linear feet

Language of Materials



The Air Vice-Marshal Ron Dick Collection follows the life and career of Air Vice-Marshal Ronald Dick. He served in the Royal Air Force, which included two appointments to the British Embassy in Washington, D.C., first as Air Attaché and then as Defense Attaché. During and after his military career, he was a prolific writer and lecturer on the history of aviation and took any opportunity he could to fly. The materials in this collection include material concerning his military career, speeches, correspondence, photographs, scrapbooks, and memorabilia.


The collection is arranged in nine series and three subseries:

Series I:
General Information, 1948-2008
Series II:
Public Speaking and Writings, 1950-2007
Series III:
Correspondence, 1950-2007
Series IV:
Travels, 1953-2006
Series V:
Military Career, 1942-2008
Series VI:
Programs, 1946-2004
Series VII:
Audio-Visual Materials, 1938-2005
Subseries VIIA:
Slides, 1942-2000
Subseries VIIB:
Photographs, 1938-2005
Subseries VIIC:
Film, VHS, and Audiotapes, 1952-1994
Series VIII:
Scrapbooks, 1944-1997
Series IX:
Memorabilia, 1957-2004

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The Air Vice-Marshal Ron Dick Collection was donated to Wright State University Special Collections and Archives by Pauline Dick in May 2012.

Existence and Location of Copies

An access copy of the DVD “Ron Dick, A Celebration of a Life Well Lived” in Series I, is available at the archives’ reference desk by requesting E-Archives Access Copy of ms494_e0001.

Separated Materials

The 16mm film reels are stored off-site in the Special Collections and Archives Records storage area in the Medical Science Building.

Books in the collection were separated and cataloged for the Reading Room, and are searchable in the local catalog by using the terms “Ron Dick Collection.”


Dick, Ronald. Lancaster: RAF heavy bomber. Charlottesville, VA: Howell Press, 1996. Dick, Ronald. Spitfire: RAF fighter. Charlottesville, VA: Howell Press, 1997. Dick, Ronald. Messerschmitt Bf 109: Luftwaffe fighter. Charlottesville, VA: Howell Press, 1997. Dick, Ronald. American Eagles: a history of the United States Air Force: featuring the collection of the US Air Force Museum. Charlottesville, VA: Howell Press, 1997. Dick, Ronald. Reach and Power: the heritage of the United States Air Force in pictures and artifacts. Washington, DC: Air Force History and Museum Programs, 1997. Dick, Ronald. Hurricane: RAF fighter. Erin, Ont.: Boston Mills Press, 2000. Dick, Ronald. Aviation Century. Erin, Ont.: Boston Mills Press, 2003. Dick, Ronald. 50 Aircraft that Changed the World. Erin, Ont.: Boston Mills Press, 2007.
Guide to the Air Vice-Marshal Ron Dick Collection (MS-494)
Victoria Blair
2014 November
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

Revision Statements

  • 2017 August: Revised by John Armstrong

Repository Details

Part of the Wright State University Libraries, Special Collections and Archives Repository

Special Collections and Archives
3640 Colonel Glenn Hwy
Dayton OH 45435-0001 USA