Per Ardua ad Astra

September 9th, 2004  

Topic: Per Ardua ad Astra

The Royal Air Force Motto
" Per Ardua ad Astra"

As far as can be ascertained, the motto of the Royal Air Force dates back to 1912 and the formation of the Royal Flying Corps (RFC). The first Commanding Officer of the RFC (Military Wing) was Colonel Frederick Sykes. He asked his officers to come up with a motto for the new service; one which would produce a strong esprit de corps.

Shortly after this, two junior officers were walking from the Officers' Mess at Farnborough to Cody's Shed on Laffan Plain. As they walked, they discussed the problem of the motto and one of them, JS Yule, mentioned the phrase "Sicictar ad Astra", from the Virgilian texts. He then expanded on this with the phrase "Per Ardua ad Astra", which he translated as, "Through Struggles to the Stars". Colonel Sykes approved of this as the motto and forwarded it to the War Office. It was then submitted to the King, who approved its adoption.

The question of where this motto had come from can be answered by he fact that Yule had read it in a book called "People of the Mist" by Sir Henry Rider Haggard. In the first chapter was the passage, "To his right were two stately gates of iron fantastically wrought, supported by stone pillars on whose summit stood griffins of black marble embracing coats of arms and banners inscribed with the device 'Per Ardua ad Astra'".

As to where Sir Rider Haggard obtained this phrase is still unclear although it is possible that it originated from the Irish family of Mulway who had used it as their family motto for hundreds of years and translated it as "Through Struggles to the Stars".

The authoritative translation of the motto is just as unsure as the source. Since there can be a number of different meanings to 'Ardua' and 'Astra', scholars have declared it to untranslatable. To the Royal Air Force and Commonwealth Air Forces though it will remain "Through Struggles to the Stars". It is peculiar to the Royal Air Force and has been made famous by the heroic and courageous deeds of our air forces over the years.

have to say I didnt write this did steal it from the RAF website located here
so their you go motto, translation and history

September 11th, 2004  
the Royal Australian Air Force has the same motto as the RAF. Just one of the things the Aussies and Poms have in common
September 11th, 2004  
Shouldn't it be "per aspera ad astram" ?

at least, this is what I've learned in latin class some years ago 8)
September 11th, 2004  
I have that one on the site already, but the translation is a bit different:
Got it from a RAF officer.
"Per Ardua Ad Astra"
(Through Adversity to the Stars)
The Royal Air Force (RAF)
September 12th, 2004  
Yeah I have seen several variations on the translation but they all boil down to the same thing really

You wanna get up there, slog your arse out lol

September 12th, 2004  
We use that here in the Canadian Air Force as well.
October 5th, 2004  
Italian Guy
Here we go, all these babies here need some hardcore original Italian- from- Latin lesson uh??

Per ardua ad astra, per aspera ad astra = through adversity to stars.

They mean the same thing. Arduus and asper mean hard and harsh, so no big difference.