Recently retired as Head of Collections and Research at the Royal Air Force Museum, Ian Thirsk has long held a fascination for aviation, first inspired by his father who worked for de Havilland’s at Hatfield. Ian joined the Royal Air Force Museum in December 1989, starting in the Visual Arts Department as an Assistant Curator. In 1994 he became Curator of the Museum’s Film and Sound Recordings Archive, overseeing the collection’s preservation and conservation and ensuring its accessibility for research and external users.
In 2010 he succeeded Richard Simpson as Keeper of the Museum’s Aircraft and Exhibits Department; the job title being revised to ‘Head of Collections’ to incorporate a wider remit including responsibility for the Museum Curatorial Department at Cosford plus the Reserve Collection at Stafford. In addition to the Research Programme, Ian later became responsible for all Royal Air Force Museum collections, namely Aircraft and Exhibits, Archives and Library, Photographs, Film and Sound recordings plus FineArt and Medals.
In June 2013 Ian led the RAFM’s Goodwin Sands Dornier 17 recovery project and has been responsible for other notable RAFM aircraft acquisitions in recent years, including the C-130K Hercules, Harrier GR.9A, VC10C.1K and Predator Drone.
Ian maintains a lifelong interest in aviation history, especially the products of the de Havilland Aircraft Company and in particular the Mosquito. Ian has been a voluntary member of the DH Museum’s Mosquito Team for over forty years, initially overseeing restoration of TT.35 TA634 and later acting as advisor during the conservation of the original Mosquito Prototype W4050. Previous publications include ‘de Havilland Mosquito: An Illustrated History Volume 2’ for Crecy Publishing plus various magazine articles for Aeroplane Monthly, Flypast, The Aviation Historian etc.