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Other mottos/phrases also incorporate the Latin "ad astra". See the article ad astra (phrase).
Per Ardua Ad Astra, a 1984 memorial sculpture by Oscar Nemon on University Avenue in Toronto, Canada honouring fallen Canadian airmen and women.
The motto carved into the shelter at Stonefall cemetery in Harrogate, which has Air Force graves from many Commonwealth air forces.

Per ardua ad astra ("Through adversity to the stars"[1] or "Through struggle to the stars")[2] is the motto of the Royal Air Force and other Commonwealth air forces such as the RAAF, RNZAF, the SAAF, as well as the Royal Indian Air Force until 1947. The RCAF used it until 1968 after which it used the motto "sic Itur ad Astra" It dates from 1912, when it was adopted by the newly formed Royal Flying Corps.



Per ardua ad astra badge on the Polish War Memorial
RAF badge on the 1918 headstone of Lieutenant J. D. Lightbody in Scheldewindeke, Belgium[3]

The first Commanding Officer of the Royal Flying Corps (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.

Not long 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, Lieutenant J. S. Yule, mentioned the phrase Sic itur ad Astra, from Virgil. 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.[4]

Yule is believed to have borrowed the phrase from Sir Henry Rider Haggard's fantasy novel The People of the Mist (1894). The first chapter includes the sentence: "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'". It is possible that Rider Haggard had taken it from the Irish family of Mulvany, who had used it as their family motto for centuries, translating it as "Through Struggles to the Stars".

There is no single definitive translation, as both "ardua" and "astra" can carry a range of associations. The Royal Air Force and other Commonwealth air forces most often translate it as "Through Adversity to the Stars".[5]


The motto of the Royal Air Force Regiment omits the ad astra part, becoming simply per ardua. Conversely, the name of the building that originally housed the Air Ministry, became Adastral House, based only on 'ad astra. The Royal Canadian Air Force and many other entities use the similar motto per aspera ad astra.

Other usesEdit


Per ardua ad astra is also the motto of:

  • County Grammar School, Ikwerre/Etche, Rivers State, Nigeria.
  • Ogbomoso Grammar School, Ogbomoso, Oyo State, Nigeria. Founded in 1952.
  • St Joseph's High School, Dharwad, Karnataka, India. Founded in 1889.
  • George L. Armstrong School, Hamilton, Ontario
  • Port Colborne High School, Port Colborne, Ontario, Canada
  • George W. Wingate High School, Brooklyn, New York
  • St. Augustine Girls' High School, Trinidad and Tobago
  • Institute of Science, Nagpur, India.[6]
  • Acadia University Engineering Society[7] Nova Scotia, Canada
  • Cathedral Schools in Stavanger and Trondheim (Stavanger katedralskole Kongsgård and Trondheim katedralskole), Norway
  • Antonio DeSouza High School (ANZA), Mumbai, India
  • J.C. Chandisingh Secondary School (formerly Corentyne High School), Rose Hall, Guyana, South America.
  • Dale College (for boys), King Williams Town, South Africa (generally translated by the school as "through hard work to the stars".)
  • Alexandra School, Barbados
  • Uxbridge Secondary School, Ontario, Canada
  • Bulli High School (NSW, Australia).
  • Lacovia High School located in St. Elizabeth, Jamaica, West Indies. The school uses the translation "through toil to the stars".
  • Lady Hardinge Medical College, New Delhi, India.
  • Lancaster/School House at King Edward VII School, King's Lynn, Norfolk
  • St. Aloysius College, Athlone, Ireland
  • St. Augustine's School, Kalimpong, India
  • St. Augustine Girls' High School, Curepe, Trinidad
  • St. Cyprian’s Special Science School, Nsukka, Enugu State, Nigeria
  • Girls High School, Harare, Zimbabwe (Through hard work, we'll reach the stars)
  • Rice College Secondary School, Westport, County Mayo, Ireland
  • Elgin Superior School, Elgin, New Brunswick, Canada
  • Nackawic Senior High School, Nackawic, New Brunswick, Canada
  • North and South Esk Regional High School, Sunny Corner, New Brunswick, Canada
  • Northview Aviation Ltd, Brook, Kent, England
  • Mount Hutt college, Canterbury, New Zealand
  • Earth Directorate vessel Searcher (second season of Buck Rogers in the 25th Century television series).
  • Wantage Hall, University of Reading (United Kingdom)
  • Highbury Grove School, London, UK
  • Jamie Ashton Ltd., Wales, UK
  • Girton Grammar School, Bendigo VIC Australia, (Through hardship to the stars)
  • Ridgeway and Crystal Beach high School, (Ridgeway, Ontario, Canada)
  • Gingerland Secondary School, (Gingerland, St. Georges Parish, Nevis)
  • Tembisa High School, Tembisa, Gauteng, South Africa
  • Lockhart Schweitzer House, Mfantsipim School, Cape Coast, Ghana
  • ProEd Consortium, Hwa Chong Institution, Singapore
  • Renaissance School, Indianapolis, Indiana
  • SMA Negeri 3 (Public High School no.3), Batam, Indonesia
  • Young High School, Young, New South Wales, Australia[8]
  • Asteroid Mining Corporation, United Kingdom
  • Grupo de Aviación N°1 Los Cóndores, Fuerza Aérea de Chile.


See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Frequently Asked Questions". RAF. 2013-04-26. Retrieved 2013-11-04. 
  2. ^ "Royal Australian Air Force Badge". Australian Department of Defence. Retrieved 1 February 2012. 
  3. ^ "Scheldewindeke Churchyard". 
  4. ^ here, RAF Details. "RAF - The Royal Air Force Motto". 
  5. ^ "The Royal Air Force Motto". RAF. 2013-04-26. Retrieved 2013-11-04. 
  6. ^ "Institute of Science, Nagpur". Archived from the original on 24 December 2012. Retrieved 4 November 2013. 
  7. ^ "Ivan Curry School of Engineering ~ Welcome". 2013-03-07. Retrieved 2013-11-04. 
  8. ^