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100th Anniversary of the Royal Flying Corps

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The Royal Flying Corps (RFC) was established April 13, 1912 and operated until April 1, 1918 when all of Britian’s air operations were amalgamated into the Royal Air Force (RAF).

Britain realized both the potential and importance of the aircraft as a tool of war early and established the RFC to train pilots and crew as well as developing the aircraft as reconnaissance tool using aerial photography. When the First World War started in 1914 the reconnaissance capability became crucial to combat on the ground. Knowing where the enemy was, how they were set up and what troop movements were being made were critical to developing the ground strategy.

Soon both sides sought to deny the enemy the ability to gain information from aerial reconnaissance leading to the development of specialized fighter aircraft and combat tactics.

The aerial arms race quickly produced technological advances and massed fleets of aircraft on both sides.

Canadians in the Royal Flying Corps

Few Canadians know that Canadian fighter pilots in the First World War ranked with the best, with many of the top aces being Canadian.

Two of the most noteworthy Canadian airmen of the war were William (Billy) Bishop, awarded the Victoria Cross, and William (Billy) Barker, the most decorated British Soldier (all services) of the First World War.

Edmontonians in the Royal Flying Corps

Even fewer know of the aircrews from Edmonton and area that left their mark in the RFC and during the aerial combats of the First World War.

  • - Stanley Winther Caws, First Canadian killed in aerial combat (1915).
  • - Arthur Roy Brown, Credited by the RAF with the downing of the “Red Baron”
  • - Wilfrid R (Wop) May, almost the 81st victim of the “Red Baron”. Went on to become a Canadian Ace and eventually one of Canadian’s most famous aviators.

  • The Alberta Aviation Museum is celebrating this 100th Anniversary as well as Canadian and Edmontonian contributions with a new exhibit to be open to the public 10:00am Friday morning. This Exhibit will continue to evolve with special artifacts and custom built models being added to the story through 2012.

    We are hoping you can join us as we add this exhibit promoting Canadian and Edmontonian history.

    For further information please contact:

  • Thomas Hinderks
  • Executive Director
  • Alberta Aviation Museum
  • Media contact: 780-907-8455
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