Aviation Cultures Mk IV

Transitions · Communities · Global Networks
28 November to 1 December 2018

Change is a defining characteristic of aviation. Since the early twentieth century new technologies have shaped the course of civil and military aviation and today in times of pressing issues such as cyber security, global warming and increasingly mobile populations the aviation industry has had to respond to these transitions. How many transitions have been positive – and how many were negative? Indeed, how can we evaluate the impact of these ups and downs, and who is best placed to judge?

Registrations are now open via Eventbrite.

Save the date poster

International appeal

This fourth conference in the Aviation Cultures series reaches out across the globe. Expanding our previous national and regional focus, we welcome scholars, industry figures and community practitioners from around the world. We can’t yet promise travel assistance, but there will be a warm welcome and an established tradition of cross-disciplinary and cross-cultural exchange.

Conference themes

Our themes are suggestions only, but we hope they prompt lines of inquiry. Have the most important transitions in aviation been technological, environmental, political or cultural? While mass commercial aviation may have fostered connections, do other linkages such as global drone surveillance networks unite or divide us? And much as we may think of remote settlements or airport workers as communities created by aviation, what about the bypassed ‘flyover states’ and ‘fly-in, fly-out’ work sites?

Preliminary programme

The initial programme for Aviation Cultures is available to download here. We have a diverse and fascinating series of presentations on offer, ranging from 5-minute ‘Blitz’ talks to 45-minute keynotes by our invited international guests, Dr Alex M Spencer from the US National Air and Space Museum, Washington DC, and Dr Dorthe Gert Simondsen from the Saxo Institute, Copenhagen. There is also a panel discussion on the future of aviation cultures and a half-day symposium on the difficult topic of ‘A national aviation collection for Australia?’

Preliminary Programme

Keynote presenters

We are delighted to welcome two internationally renowned scholars to the conference to share their latest research:

Dr Alex M Spencer

Dr Alex M Spencer

Dr Alex M Spencer is a curator in the Aeronautics Department at the National Air and Space Museum, Washington DC, USA. His keynote presentation is entitled "Muddling through: air defence of Australia and New Zealand, 1919–40."

Associate Professor Dorthe Gert Simondsen

Associate Professor Dorthe Gert Simondsen

Associate Professor Dorthe Gert Simondsen is a historian and cultural studies scholar at the Saxo Institute, Copenhagen, Denmark. Her keynote address will be "Heavier than air: embodying early aviation."

Special symposium: a national aviation collection

A special focus of this conference will be a half-day symposium exploring the question of national aviation collections. Our primary case study will be Australia – where the prospect has been debated for over 40 years – but the symposium will also enlist key practitioners from other nations and related heritage fields. What is the value in shaping a ‘national’ collection, what form might it take, who should administer it, and how can it be sustained?

Venues and tours

The main conference will be held at the University of Sydney, located near the centre of Sydney, one of Australia’s main international hubs. More details about the location, accommodation and travel necessities will be added as the meeting approaches. Stand by for details about the location of the special symposium, and our post-conference aviation-themed tour.


In order to encourage accessibility and broad participation, there will be no fee for the main conference sessions. There may be per-head charges for the special symposium and/or the post-conference tour.

Previous meetings

To see the programme and abstracts for our previous meetings, please click here for:

There have not been any printed proceedings from these meetings, but please contact individual speakers if you wish to learn more about their research.


Aviation Cultures Mk IV is being convened by a committee representing a range of aviation-related interests in the academic, corporate and community spheres.

  • Dr Prudence Black – The University of Sydney
  • Dr David Crotty – Qantas Heritage Collection
  • Mr Paul Ewoldt – Aviation Historical Society of Australia (NSW)
  • Dr Peter Hobbins – The University of Sydney

For regular updates and relevant theme discussions, join our Twitter feed: #aviationcultures

For specific enquiries, please contact Dr Peter Hobbins, peter.hobbins@sydney.edu.au


We are grateful to our sponsors listed below, and always welcome additional support in the form of funding and/or in-kind assistance with venues, travel, catering and conference giveaways.

Sydney University logo

TRCC logo

Mustard Group logo

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