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Formation

Major General Frederick Sykes, circa 1918, commander of the Military Wing RFC

Lt General David Henderson, the first commanding officer of the Royal Flying Corps

On 13 April 1912 the Royal Flying Corps (RFC) was formed by Royal Warrant and came into being a month later in May when the Air Battalion was absorbed into the Military Wing of the new Corps.

The RFC was to consist of several different elements. A Military Wing administered by the War Office and a Naval Wing administered by the Admiralty. A Central Flying School would be available to the personnel of both Wings in order to teach the pilots the skills required for operational flying.

The Military Wing of the RFC was commanded by Major F. Sykes and initially consisted of three squadrons. No. 1 Squadron was formed from No. 1 (Airship) Company of the Air Battalion and remained an airship company. No. 3 Squadron was formed from No. 2 (Aeroplane) Company of the Air Battalion and No. 2 Squadron was formed from a nucleus of aeroplane pilots at Farnborough. Further squadrons were formed over the course of the next year with No. 4 Squadron being created in August 1912 and No. 5 Squadron established in July 1913.

The Naval Wing was smaller in size being formed from the naval aviators based at Eastchurch. It was commanded by Commander C.R. Samson and did not establish squadrons until it separated from the RFC in 1914 when the Royal Naval Air Service (RNAS) was established.

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