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Saturday, 06 June 2015 14:20

Pilot's notes : copy or not

 If you collect aviation related documents, you are probably familiar with the many different WWII publications: American military technical manuals, US Air force technical orders and pilots notes published in England.

Whilst copies and reproductions for these documents are commonplace, the pilot's notes pose a real problem: the quality and number of copies is probably even greater than the original publications !

Let's try to make sense of all this! Two principal publishers have reproduced the pilot's notes.

The most important of these is Crecy Publishing, Air Data Publications, who produced over fifty volumes between the 1970's and start of 2000. Actually from 1967 to be precise. These manuals are easy to identify as the front cover has "Crown Copyright - Reproduced by permission of Her Majesty's Stationery Office" or "Reproduced by permission of the United States Government" printed on it. It is worth noting that often these manuals only have the original publishing date indicated which can cause confusion. Often the mediocre quality paper used in the 1970's has prematurely aged and this yellowing can make it look like an original.


Fake Original

Copy from Air Data Publications and original

Authentic manuals often have updates stuck onto the original pages making them up to twice as thick and visibly modified. For reproductions, such updates are usually incorporated into the work as though part of the actual work. Another giveaway is where the cockpit views are folded but you can see where the original folds were meant to be by the darker lines.

The second group of reproductions are from Sapphire Productions. These reproductions often include handwritten notes appearing as printed into the document and they have a cover slightly different to the original work (showing the Air Publication reference and the title with no other information). Paper is different too from original.

The attached photographs will enable you to spot the differences...

IMG 5026
Crecy publishing facsimile

IMG 5027Only way to identify from a photo: Back cover of the manual

IMG 5030Original: Amendments are hand signed

IMG 5032Original: Amendments are glued on the original text

IMG 5033Original: Text on the back cover

Ebay poses an interesting problem. You can find everything there, real and fakes in abundance, sold often as originals and at staggering prices more often than not. Try a search with keywords of "Original" & "Pilot's Notes" to see the scale of the phenomenon.

Whilst some of the sellers are certainly dishonest, others really don't know any better what they are selling. Sometimes this enables one to find a great deal but in most cases just serves to confuse beginner buyers.

Good Luck collecting!

Benoit de Mulder - benoit at




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