The Royal Flying Corps Centenary

Avro biplane

being readied for flight for the Military Aeroplane Competition, Larkhill, 1912

Balloon Section

of the Royal Engineers, circa 1892

Samuel Cody's

British Army Aeroplane No. 1

Short Biplane

aboard HMS Hiberia for the Royal Review, Weymouth, May 1912

The Royal Flying Corps Centenary

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.

Find out more about British military aviation 1862-1912

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.

Find out more about the RFC

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.