The Royal Flying Corps Centenary
Balloon Section of the Royal Engineers, circa 1892.
Avro Biplane being readied for the Military Aeroplane Competition, Larkhill, 1912.
Samuel Cody's British Army Aeroplane No.1
Short Biplane aboard HMS Hibernia for the Royal Review, Weymouth, May 1912.
The Royal Flying Corps (RFC) was created by Royal Warrant 100 years ago on 13 April 1912 and established a month later in May.
The RFC can trace its origins back to the Royal Engineers and the early flying experiments undertaken by the Army from the 1870s, and by the Royal Navy from the 1900s.
This pioneering work demonstrated the potential for using balloons, kites, airships and finally aeroplanes for a military purpose. This realisation, combined with the arguments put forward by civilian 'air-minded' individuals of the time and the evidently superior air forces of other European countries, persuaded the British Government that a flying corps was needed. As a result the RFC was established in 1912.
It consisted of a Military Wing, a Naval Wing and a Central Flying School. This small Corps, formed just nine years after the famous Wright Brothers' flight of 1903 would find itself at war just two years later. The First World War would see the first extensive and decisive use of air power.
To mark the centenary of the RFC this exhibition uses material held within the Museum's collection to highlight the experiences of those involved with early Army and Navy flying. It also tells the story of how the RFC came to be formed and its first few years of existence.