Last month a group of aviation enthusiasts from a local Farnborough company paid us a visit. Amongst them was a Dutchman who was overjoyed to see a collection of Dutch magazines chronicling the early days of flight. One article that caught his eye was this one from a copy of Avia dated 17 July 1914:

Luckily for those, like us, who do not speak Dutch, he also left a translation:

Famous people: Minister Churchill.

Recently we have reported on the flights that the English First Lord of the Admiralty, Winston Churchill, has undertaken as a passenger with the late Gustav Hamel and other pilots. With Hamel, the Minister experienced a tumble from the sky.

Very cautions people have urged Churchill not to risk his life doing this. The unexpected reply from the Minister was his announcement that he would become a pilot himself and gain a pilots licence, Indeed, Churchill has taken and passed a number of tests.

What those cautious people could not achieve has been achieved by his wife - his Excellency has said fairwell to aerial sport. The objections raised by Mrs Churchill, and possibly her pleadings, made him give in.

Undoubtedly this is a significant loss for English aviation. Having an airman in the government who displays his sympathy in such a convincing way, is a benefit that should not be overestimated. However it is beyond doubt that Minister Churchill, even as a retired pilot, will not withdraw his support from aviation.

You do wonder what would have happened in World War I and World War II if Churchill had continued to fly, especially as he has been described by one historian as a "hopeless" flier. However, Avia's predictions have been seen as right. Historians have pointed out that Churchill played a key part in the development of the World War I Royal Naval Air Service and the high quality of their aircraft had much to do with his work.

Avia Magazine can be found at the National Aerospace Library. RAeS members can use our postal loans service and may be interested in the following library books on Churchill and the World War I Royal Naval Air Service:

V. Orange, Churchill and his Airmen : Relationships, Intrigue and Policy Making 1914-1945. (2013)
M. Philpott, Air and Sea Power in World War I: Combat and Experience in the Royal Flying Corps and the Royal Navy. (2013)
P.G. Cooksley, The RFC/RNAS Handbook 1914-18. (2000)
T. C. Treadwell, The First Naval Air War (2002)
T. C. Treadwell & A. C. Wood (ed), Images of aviation: The Royal Naval Air Service (1999)
R. D. Layman, Naval Aviation in the First World War: its impact and influence  (1996)
B. King, Royal Naval Air Service 1912-1918 (1997).  

23 September 2014