The Royal Flying Corps at War:The Early Years

11 November 2013

Royal Aeronautical Society


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When the Royal Flying Corps crossed to France in August 1914 to take its place alongside the Poor Bloody Infantry (PBI) and the other elements of the British Expeditionary Force (BEF), the military authorities mainly saw the aeroplane as a platform for reconnaissance.

In itself, that was something of a ‘visionary’ step forward from the 1910 statement by the then Professional Head of the Army who said that military aviation was “a useless and expensive fad”.

This lecture examines the origins of the Royal Flying Corps who travelled to France in the aircraft they had. Driven by the necessity of war, there were resulting developments in tactics, equipment, communications and weapons in the first year of the Great War.

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Speaker Details

David Rowland, Past President, Royal Aeronautical Society

David joined British Overseas Airways Corporation (BOAC) in 1969 as a co-pilot/navigator on VC 10 aircraft and then joined the Concorde Fleet in 1976, soon after the aircraft entered service, serving initially as a Co-Pilot and then as a Captain and Manager of the Concorde Fleet.

He retired from flying in 1999 and since then has taken the opportunity to develop his knowledge of the Great War and especially aviation in that conflict. He gives talks on WW1 subjects and took part in the BBC2 Timewatch documentary ‘WW1 - Aces Falling’ (March 2009), that focussed on the flying careers of both Jimmy McCudden VC and Edward Mannock VC. He is a Past Chairman of the Heart of England Branch of the Western Front Association.

David is a Fellow and Past-President of the Royal Aeronautical Society, a Fellow of the Royal Institute of Navigation and a Liveryman of the Guild of Air Pilots and Air Navigators


Royal Aeronautical Society