Dr Leigh Edmonds
Research Fellow at the CAHS & Airways Museum 2015-

Leigh Edmonds

Left: Dr Leigh Edmonds researching in the CAHS archives, February 2015

Leigh Edmonds started work as a base grade Clerk in Head Office of the Department of Civil Aviation in 1965. He served, as he claims, 'without distinction' in the Airworthiness, Aviation Medicine and Airports Branches for the following decade until his managers discovered his primary talent, his ability with words. After that he worked on teams writing Provisional Master Plans for aerodromes that were to be handed over to local ownership and was promoted to take charge of the Airports Division’s ministerial responsibilities in 1979.

When the Airports Division was transferred from Melbourne to Canberra during that year Leigh went too. There he also enrolled as a part time student at the Australian National University, studying political science, sociology and history. At the end of the first year he was invited to enter the honours streams of the Political Science and History Departments and chose history because he had discovered that historians have more fun.

Safety was the mantra of the civil aviation Department and one day it occurred to Leigh to ask why this was so? Why such a fastidious attention to ensuring the utmost safety in everything the Department did? Without realizing it, he set out to find the answer to that question and the first step along this path was his honours thesis which examined the origins of the Department of Civil Aviation in 1938.

In 1987 Leigh resigned from the Department to follow an academic career, beginning with enrolment at Murdoch University as a PhD candidate - his research topic was the creation of a civil aviation industry in Western Australia in the interwar period. While undertaking this study and subsequently Leigh also did a great deal of university teaching in history, sociology, political science and cultural studies. More recently he has specialized in researching and writing commissioned histories for organizations such as roads authorities, water authorities, electricity authorities, schools and the Australian Taxation Office, and currently has a dozen titles to his name.

As of 2016 Leigh is working on a three volume concise history of Australian civil aviation in the Twentieth Century. It's focus is not on flying but on the social, economic, political and technical environments in which civil aviation developed here. The first volume, which covers the period up until the beginning of the Second World War in 1939, was published by BHS Publishing as an ebook in 2015. He is currently completing work on the second volume which takes the story up until the mid 1970s which, he hopes, will be published by the end of this year. These volumes will, in a round about way, answer the question Leigh asked himself in the mid 1980s.

Dr Leigh Edmonds was appointed a Research Fellow at the CAHS & Airways Museum in 2015.

Dr Leigh Edmonds

Above: Dr Edmonds presented to the CAHS on 'Early Douglas Airliners in Australia' in December 2016.

Below: Dr Edmonds doing an interview with ABC radio in his home town of Ballarat, Vic. As part of his passion for aviation, Leigh is also a keen model aircraft builder.


Leigh Edmonds

(Photos: top/middle-Maurice Austin/CAHS; bottom-via Leigh Edmonds)

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