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Albert Ball

Captain Albert Ball, born 14 August 1896 in Lenton, Nottingham, became Britain’s first ‘celebrity pilot’. With 44 confirmed victories in air combat, Ball was also one of Britain’s most successful aces. His insistence on solo fighting, along with his youth and bravery, made him particularly popular with the public, who...

Hugh Trenchard

Born 3 February 1873, Hugh Trenchard was a British Officer and Air Marshal who helped to lay the foundations of the RAF. Joining the army in 1893, Trenchard served in the Boer War and then in Nigeria, before returning to Britain in 1912. In the same year, he trained to...

David Henderson

David Henderson was the first Commander of the RFC. His actions were instrumental in the establishment of an independent air force, and he has often been credited as the Father of the RAF. Born on 11 August 1862 in Glasgow, Henderson came from a relatively affluent family. Aged 15, in...

William Leefe Robinson

Lieutenant William Leefe Robinson was the first airman to shoot down a German airship over Britain. The very public destruction of the airship made Robinson a national hero and he was awarded the VC for his actions. Born on 14 July 1895 in India, Robinson was educated at St Bee’s...

Edwin Rowland Moon

Edwin Rowland Moon was Southampton’s first aviation pioneer and an RNAS pilot during the First World War. Upon leaving school in 1904, Moon briefly worked in his late father’s finance company before setting up his own business, Moonbeam Engineering. Here, he built motor launches and marine engines but aspired to...

Preston Albert Watson

Preston Watson was a Scottish aviation pioneer who served with the RNAS during the First World War. He is credited with creating the rocking wing method of lateral control – an original method of controlling an aircraft in flight.  Born on 17 May 1880, he came from a prominent Dundee...

William Avery Bishop

William Avery Bishop, known as Billy Bishop, was Canada’s highest scoring fighter pilot of the First World War, with 72 confirmed victories. Born in Owen Sound, Ontario on 8 February 1894, Bishop attended the Royal Military College. He joined the 8th Canadian Mounted Rifles on the outbreak of war in...

Andrew Beauchamp-Proctor

Andrew Beauchamp-Proctor, born on 4 September 1894 in Mossel Bay, South Africa, was the leading South African First World War ace, achieving 54 victories. At the outbreak of war, he had been studying engineering at the University of Cape Town and decided to join the Duke of Edinburgh’s Own Rifles,...

James McCudden

Major James McCudden, born 28 March 1895 in Gillingham, came from a middle-class family with a rich military background. His father, William McCudden, was a Royal Engineer, while his two brothers were also airmen in the RFC. In 1910, aged 15, McCudden joined the Royal Engineers as a bugler. By...

John ‘Jack’ McCudden

Second Lieutenant John ‘Jack’ McCudden was born on 14 June 1897 in Chatham, Kent.  During the First World War, he served with No. 25 and No. 84 Squadrons of the RFC. In February 1918, McCudden survived after his plane was shot down by German airman from Jasta 12. Less than...