The First Royal Air Force (RAF) Pilots November 6th, 2009
The First Royal Air Force (RAF) Pilots
The desire to fly like a bird goes back many centuries and is reflected in the many myths of flying dragons and flying horses such as Pegasus. There has always been a magic about the very idea of flying and that magic is linked to the way all men and women look up at the sky, particularly when the stars are there, and wonder.
RAF pilots experience that wonder every time they sit in their aeroplane, increase the power, and begin the take – off run.
So how did it all begin?
The first known form of Military Air Power was in China as early as 200 BC when General Han Hsin used a man kite to calculate the distance between his army and the opposing forces. Chinese forces used kites to pass signals and may have used them as bomb carriers.The explorer Marco Polo , when in Cathay in the 14th century told of seafarers tying unwilling people to large tethered kites. If they flew well it indicated a successful voyage. Man carrying kites were also used in Japan in the 19th century.
In Europe bomb laden kites appear in sketches about 1326 AD. The dream of flight started to have some practical realisation with the advent of ballooning in France where it developed as a sport and for entertainment.
We need to jump forward to 1909.
Flying was slow to start in England being confined to a few individuals with little government support. This changed when Louis Bleriot flew his monoplane across the channel in July 1909. The first British Pilot’s Licence was issued to Moore –Brabazon
after he won the daily Mail prize for flying a circular flight of one mile in his Short Biplane.
The army were the first to recognise the potential of aircraft for reconnaissance purposes and the Royal Flying Corps (RFC) came into being. The initial plans were to form a unified air service but old service rivalries prevented this so the Navy had their own air arm The Royal Naval Air Service (RNAS). Throughout the First World War (1914-1918) the two services operated separately. On 1st April 1918 the two services were joined to become The Royal Air Force (RAF) thus the RAF pilot was born.
In the early days the RAF Pilot had to contend with antiquated aircraft and a constantly changing administration. The government lacked enthusiasm for Air Power but appointed General Sir Hugh Trenchard as Chief of the Air Staff. He set the very high standards for RAF Pilots that continue to-day, however, he resigned shortly after. Sir Hugh Trenchard was later reappointed by Churchill and went on to be called the Father of The Royal Air Force. The training of an RAF Pilot is second to none.