Key events and dates in the RAF's 100-year history, from its beginnings as the Royal Flying Corps in 1912 to today.

  • Now
  • 1st September 2017
    RAF becomes the first British military service to allow women in any role.
  • 18th February 2016
    The Royal Air Force's Air Sea Rescue Service is disbanded.
  • 1st August 2013
    Air Commodore Elaine West is promoted to Air Vice Marshal. The promotion makes her the highest ranking woman in British Armed Forces and the first woman in the RAF to achieve a 2-star rank.
  • 1st January 2013
    502 Sqn reforms at Aldergrove after fifty-six years.
  • 1st November 2009
    Flt Lt Kirsty Moore becomes the first woman pilot appointed to serve with the Red Arrows. She flew with the team from 2010 to 2012, including flying during the Opening Ceremony of the London 2012 Olympics.
  • 1st October 2009
    Departure of 230 Sqn.
  • 20th September 2009
    RAF ensign lowered at RAF Aldergrove.
  • 1st July 2008
    Typhoon FGR4 is the RAF's first fast jet declared multi-role capable.
  • 7th March 2008
    Flt Lt Michelle Goodman became the first woman to be awarded a DFC which she was awarded for her services in Iraq.
  • 1st August 2007
    Termination of Operation Banner.
  • 6th May 2006
    Flt Lt Sarah Mulvihill is the first servicewoman to be killed in action in Iraq and the first British servicewoman to be killed in action in over 20 years.
  • 1st March 2002
    With No.72 Squadron stood down, 230 Squadron becomes sole RAF Support Helicopter unit in Northern Ireland.
  • 1st April 2000
    The Joint Helicopter Force Northern Ireland was established (though in effect it had been functioning since the previous October). This brought all service helicopters in the Province under one command and control authority.
  • 1st April 2000
    The Joint Helicopter Force Northern Ireland was established (though in effect it had been functioning since the previous October). This brought all service helicopters in the Province under one command and control authority.
  • 15th August 1998
    Omagh bombing, helicopters from 72 and 230 Squadrons, as well as a Sea King HU Mk4 of 846 Naval Air Squadron, ferried casualties to hospitals in Enniskillen, Londonderry and Belfast. 29 people were killed and 399 injured.
  • 24th January 1997
    Five Pumas led by Squadron Leader N.Laird arrived at Aldergrove and became "B" Flight of 72 Squadron.
  • 1st April 1995
    32 Squadron (originally formed in 1916) became the 32 Royal Squadron.
  • 1st September 1994
    72 Squadron celebrates 25 years of continuous service in the Province, flying the Westland Wessex.
  • 1st August 1994
    Flight Lieutenant Jo Salter becomes the first female fast jet pilot.
  • 12th July 1994
    Puma XW225 was brought down by IRA mortar fire at Newtownhamilton as it was departing the base. Damage to the tail started a fire and resulted in the loss of control to the tail rotor drive. It force landed on a football field and turned on its side. The crew, Flight Lieutenants Dobson and Jenkins, Sergeant Steve Kilbane and twelve passengers evacuated hastily with little more than bruises. For his skill in minimising injury or damage to personnel, civilians, civilian property or the aircraft the aircraft captain was awarded the DFC. The aircraft was recovered by a Chinook, repaired and was flying again before the end of the year.
  • 2nd June 1994
    Crash of Boeing Chinook HC2 ZD576 on flight from RAF Aldergrove to Scotland, with loss of 29 lives.
  • 1st April 1994
    WRAF disbanded and fully integrated into the RAF
  • 26th May 1992
    As Gazelle ZB681 of 665 Squadron Army Air Corps was taking off, it collided with an incoming RAF Puma, XW233. The Puma impacted into the perimeter security fence, while the Gazelle crash-landed close by. The two Gazelle crewmen escaped with serious injuries but all four personnel on board the Puma were killed, Squadron Leader M.Haverson, Flight Lieutenant S.M.J.Roberts, Flight Sergeant J.R.Pewtress and an Army officer, Major J.Barr, who was on a familiarisation sortie. This was the first tragedy of this nature at Bessbrook in over 20 years of operations.
  • 1st May 1992
    Re-location of No.230 Squadron to RAF Aldergrove.
  • 1st January 1991
    Plt Officer Anne-Marie Dawe becomes the first woman to qualify as a navigator of Hercules aircraft at RAF Lyneham
  • 1st May 1990
    Flt Lts Sally Cox and Julie Ann Gibson flew their first solos at RAF Linton-on-Ouse.
  • 1st January 1990
    Closure of Bishops Court
  • 1st October 1987
    Start of further detachments to Northern Ireland by No.230 Squadron, which lasted until March 1990 A few months later it was decided that the threat faced by the vulnerable helicopters was such that the Rules of Engagement were changed in June 1988 to allow the aircrewmen to be trained in the firing of door-mounted General Purpose Machine-Guns (GMPG).
  • 1st January 1985
    The RAF carried out the first airdrops from Hercules C-130s delivering food to Ethiopia.
  • 9th December 1983
    The Royal Navy patrol vessel, HMS Vigilant, broke down half a mile from the County Down coast near Donaghadee. The ship had to be taken in tow by local fishing boats, while the twenty-six crew members were winched to safety. This was merely the beginning, as with storm force 10 winds lashing the shore and a sea state of 8, the Larne-Stranraer car ferry, the "Antrim Princess" suffered an engine room fire which caused it to drift powerless and in great danger a mile off Larne. This time no less than 108 passengers and 20 crew were lifted to safety. Four Wessex and five naval Sea King helicopters (from Prestwick) were involved, also was a Nimrod flying overhead to co-ordinate operations. The dangers inherent in life-saving missions were dramatically illustrated when a rocket line fired from another ferry wrapped itself around one of the rescue helicopter's main and tail rotors. Very fortunately, the aircraft made an emergency landing on the nearest land. Several members of the squadron received gallantry awards as a result of their actions that day. Flying Officer Duncan Welham was involved in both rescues, flying as co-pilot with Squadron Leader Carlyle, firstly in XV728 and then in XR517. So far the work in the Province had been fortunately without cost in human life for RAF helicopter crews. Sadly this was not to last, as on 25th October 1985, Sergeant D.Rigby was killed. He was the crewman onboard Wessex XT669, which took off from the Foxfield Observation Post near Forkhill, struck an adjacent mast and crashed. The co-pilot, Flt.Lt.Nockles, helped to organise troops on the ground to secure the site and begin the rescue operation, until medical assistance arrived from Forkhill.
  • 14th June 1982
    The end of the Falklands War.
  • 1st May 1982 - 12th June 1982
    Operation Black Buck takes place. The operation was a series of RAF air attacks on Port Stanley during the Falklands War. Carried out using Vulcan Bombers and Victor Tankers, the attacks were longest-range air-attacks in history at the time.
  • 2nd April 1982
    The start of the Falklands War.
  • 12th November 1981
    12th November 1981 Wing Commander A.E.Ryle AFC led a formation of the final three 72 Squadron aircraft from Benson and so brought the squadron's Standard to Aldergrove. Later that day, Wing Commander A.A.Nicholson MVO formally assumed command of the squadron and its full complement of thirteen aircraft and crews.
  • 1st January 1975
    Group Captain Joan Peck becomes Deputy Director of the Signals Branch. She is the first woman to hold this position.
  • 1st April 1973
    Start of commitment to Northern Ireland by detachment of Pumas from No.230 Squadron, which was shared with No.33 Sqn until 1979 The list of atrocities in Northern Ireland cannot be put into a league table but two of the more awful occurred on the same day in August 1979. The squadron was involved in the aftermath of both. Firstly, eighteen soldiers were killed in a bomb blast at Warrenpoint. The Wessex XR509 responded to the call for help and in a second explosion was severely damaged. Then, Lord Mountbatten was one of four murdered aboard his boat at Mullaghmore in County Sligo. The squadron flew members of the Mountbatten family from RAF Aldergrove to Mullaghmore and also took the Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher on her inspection visit to South Armagh two days later.
  • 1st December 1972
    The arrival of four Pumas from No 33 Squadron at Aldergrove in December 1972 eased the burden somewhat, allowing 72 Squadron aircraft and personnel to take a break when tasked to take part in exercises in Germany, Denmark, Norway and Greece.
  • 28th October 1971
    The first British satellite to be launched by a British rocket.
  • 31st March 1971
    Closure of RAF Ballykelly.
  • 1st January 1970
    RAF College Cranwell admits its first female entrants.
  • 14th July 1969
    Three aircraft and crew from No.72 Squadron, under the command of Squadron Leader Oliver, flew from exercise duties on Salisbury Plain to RAF Ballykelly in Co.Londonderry, which at that time was still an important base for the Avro Shackleton fleet. On 17th August, Wing Commander P.Wilson, led a further three aircraft across and at that juncture all seven helicopters re-located to RAF Aldergrove, which was closer to Belfast. As the Support Helicopter Detachment forming the "Ulster Flight" its main roles were security, trooping, re-supply and the movement of VIPs. Over the next two years the mainland commitments of the squadron gave precedence to an escalating requirement in Ulster as the violence intensified, up to twelve aircraft at a time being based at Aldergrove. Soon the increasing violence and civil disturbance resulted in the force being supplemented by the four Westland Scout AH1s of 8 Flight which were sent to RAF Ballykelly in support of the troops and police in Londonderry and also to Omagh in August 1969.
  • 1st January 1969
    Airport Wharf came into use again, this time as the berth for the prison ship HMS Maidstone. Sydenham became a tri-service establishment with a large influx of army personnel. On the other side of the airfield, a safe haven was provided from time to time for Belfast Corporation buses and bin lorries, which otherwise were a soft target for rioters. Along with the rest of the Province, the workers at Sydenham coped with the onset of renewed civil strife, the bombs and hoaxes, the shootings and strikes, while maintaining as much of the pattern of everyday life as possible.
  • 30th April 1968
    RAF Strike Command is created when RAF Bomber and Fighter commands merge.
  • 8th November 1967
    In its largest transport operation since the Berlin airlift of 1948-49, 50 RAF transport aircraft are used in the withdrawal of troops from Aden in Yemen. An evacuation of families from the region had taken place five months earlier.
  • 6th May 1965 - 15th May 1965
    The Red Arrows' first displays take place. Starting with a display for the press on the 6th May, the team went on to hold their first public display at the French Air Force base at Clermont Ferrand on the 9th May and then, on the 15th May, staged their first UK air show at Biggin Hill International Air Fair.
  • 1st March 1965
    The Red Arrows is created.
  • 1st January 1964
    The Ballistic Missile Entry Warning System radar site at Fylingdales in Yorkshire is made operational.
  • 1st November 1962
    The last Mosquito in RAF service is retired from CAACU.
  • 31st August 1962
    No.118 Squadron disbanded
  • 1st June 1961
    The first non-stop UK - Australia flight is made by a Vulcan of No. 617 Sqn. The flight involved three aerial refuelings (over Cyprus, Karachi and Singapore) and covered the 11,500 miles (18,510 km) in 20 hr 3 min - an average speed of 573 mph (922 km/h)
  • 2nd March 1960 - 3rd March 1960
    Sqn Ldr J H Garstin made the longest non-stop flight by the RAF in a Valiant B.1 WZ390. The flight covered 8,500 miles (13,680km) around the UK in 18hrs, 5min and was refuelled twice in the air.
  • 1st November 1959
    The first Maritime Headquarters Unit (MHQ) is created at Edinburgh.
  • 1st June 1956
    No. 216 Squadron at RAF Lyneham becomes the world's first military jet transport squadron.
  • 1st August 1955
    The first 'all-jet' flying training programme starts at No. 2 Flying Training School in Hullavington in Wiltshire.
  • 13th February 1954
    The Supermarine Swift, the first British swept-wing fighter, enters service with No. 56 Squadron, at RAF Waterbeach, Cambridgeshire.
  • 13th February 1954
    The first British swept-wing fighter, the Supermarine Swift, entered service with No. 56 Sqn, at RAF Waterbeach, Cambridgeshire.
  • 27th July 1953
    Cease fire calling an end to the Korean War
  • 1st July 1953
    Her Majesty the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh arrive at Aldergrove in a Vickers Viking of the Queen's Flight on an official visit to the Province. Military activity also continued at Sydenham in the 1950s. Throughout the period, the University Air Squadron was a focal point for flying training, receiving the long serving de Havilland Chipmunks in 1950, two North American Harvards were on the establishment in the mid 1950s, while the Hunting Percival Provost appeared for a time in 1956. Sadly No.502 Squadron, along with all the other Royal Auxiliary Air Force squadrons was disbanded after a Government Defence Review. The last operational flight by the squadron had taken place on 10th March 1957 with a flypast by three Vampires over Aldergrove during the final parade. For a time in the late 1950s the Hawker Hunters of Nos.19 and 65 Squadrons and the Gloster Meteor NF14s of No.153 Squadron were detached to Aldergrove on rotation to provide Cold War fighter cover of the western extremity of NATO. 120 Squadron received its first Shackleton MR3 in July 1958, replacing the MR.2s, which had been on strength for the previous two years. These improved versions of a much loved and reliable aircraft were held in high regard by the crews - though placing mats at the entrances on which they were expected to wipe their feet before boarding does seem a little excessive. On 1st April 1959, seven years to the day after arriving at Aldergrove, the Shackletons departed for the last time to their new base at Kinloss. The late 1950s saw an upsurge of IRA bombing and shooting incidents along the border of Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic. This became known as the Border campaign and it lasted from December 1956 until February 1962. In all there were about 600 incidents of violence which resulted in the deaths of six policemen and ten IRA volunteers. On September 1, 1959, after a spate of bombings, No 118 Squadron Royal Air Force was reformed at short notice at Aldergrove from a detached flight of No 228 squadron - a Search and Rescue (SAR) unit. The Squadron’s Sycamores proved very effective in co-operation with the RUC and many members of the full-time and reserve forces would have flown on cordon and search or reconnaissance missions between 1959 and 1962. Previously F Flight of No 275 Squadron had introduced the Sycamore to the Province, when based at Aldergrove in the SAR role between 1957 and 1959.
  • 3rd December 1952
    Four Danish sailors are rescued by Flight Lieutenant Daniel Kerns RAF off Yarmouth. This is the first UK air-sea rescue by helicopter.
  • 20th September 1952
    First female pilot in the RAF, Plt Off Officer Jean Lennox Bird
  • 1st April 1952
    Aldergrove became a maritime reconnaissance base once again, with the arrival of No.120 Squadron, which was equipped with the Avro Shackleton MR.1.
  • 1st December 1951 - 1st January 1952
    Record Atlantic crossings from Aldergrove in the English Electric Canberra.
  • 21st May 1951
    The English Electric Canberra B Mk 2, the RAF's first bomber, enters full service with No. 101 Squadron at RAF Binbrook in Lincolnshire.
  • 1st January 1951
    502 Squadron received its first jet equipment, the D.H.Vampire.
  • 1st August 1950
    RAF Reserve Command is renamed RAF Home Command.
  • 25th June 1950
    Start of the Korean War
  • 1st May 1950
    The first British Operational Helicopter Unit, the Far East Air Force’s Casualty Evacuation Flight, was established
  • 1st June 1949
    Air Marshal Sir Hugh Lloyd becomes first commander of the RAF Far East Air Force.
  • 1st June 1949
    The RAF Far East Air Force (FEAF) is created, replacing Air Command Far East.
  • 1st May 1949
    The first use of an ejection seat by a British pilot
  • 4th April 1949
    Start of NATO
  • 1st February 1949
    The WAAF became the Women’s Royal Air Force
  • 24th June 1948 - 12th May 1949
    The Berlin Airlift takes place in response to the Soviet Union's blockade of West Berlin by land and sees vital supplies dropped into the city by air. The RAF plays a crucial role in the airlift with 394,509 tons lifted to Berlin by RAF aircraft over the year.
  • 1st October 1947
    The start of the Cold War
  • 1st September 1946
    Group Captain E M Donaldson sets a new World Speed Record of 615.81 mph (991.16 km/h) in a Meteor IV
  • 1st July 1946
    No.502 Squadron re-formed with D.H.Mosquito aircraft..
  • 7th November 1945
    The first officially confirmed speed record for a jet aircraft, 606.25mph (975.67km/h), was achieved by Group Captain H J Wilson in a Meteor IV at Herne Bay.
  • 18th September 1945
    The Handley Page Halifaxes of No.518 Squadron moved from the Scottish island of Tiree to Aldergrove. Their task was meteorological and as a large unit the squadron absorbed the existing No.1402 Flight with Spitfire VIIs and Hurricane IICs, which had returned after a few months at Ballyhalbert. By the middle of 1946, the only Met unit in the UK was at Aldergrove. In October, it was renumbered as No.202 Squadron. The Halifaxes soldiered on until 1950 but not without cost, as four aircraft were lost while engaged on Met duties in the period 1946-47. The Halifax was replaced by another Handley Page product, the Hastings.
  • 15th August 1945
    V-J day- Japan surrenders to the allied nations. The Second World War ends.
  • 19th July 1945
    Two silver Dakotas arrived with King George VI, Queen Elizabeth and Princess Elizabeth. The Royal visit was part of the Victory tour of Northern Ireland, which included the opportunity to see 52 surrendered U-boats tied up at Lisahally on the Foyle.
  • 8th May 1945
    VE Day – end of the Second World War in Europe
  • 29th April 1945
    Final two U-boat sinkings by a Consolidated Liberator of 120 Squadron and a Short Sunderland of 201 Squadron.
  • 1st January 1945
    RAF Helicopter Training School is formed at Andover.
  • 7th June 1944
    The first Allied airstrip in Normandy (B1) is completed at Asnelle, North-east of Bayeux.
  • 6th June 1944
    D Day – the Allied invasion of Western Europe
  • 24th March 1944 - 25th March 1944
    Fifty RAF and Dominion Air Force personnel are murdered by the Gestapo after a mass breakout by Prisoners of War (POWs) from Stalag Luft III POW Camp in Zagan, Poland
  • 10th February 1944
    Two U-boats sunk by Vickers Wellingtons of 407 and 612 Squadrons based at Limavady. The preparations for D-Day intensified in early 1944. The 2nd (US) Infantry Division staged assaults on Magilligan and Dundrum beaches, attacked by combat-experienced pilots. Douglas C-47s of the 435th Troop Carrier Group from Maghaberry detached squadrons to Toome, Cluntoe, Mullaghmore, Limavady and St Angelo to practise drops with the 82nd (US) Airborne Division. Further exercises involved the locally based 5th and 8th (US) Infantry Divisions. Essential personnel and urgent stores were flown by US Naval Air Transport Service Convair Coronado flying-boats on a scheduled run from New York to Sandy Bay on Lough Neagh. Many ships of the vast invasion fleet assembled in Belfast Lough. After 6th June men and supplies were airlifted direct to Normandy from RAF Bishop's Court. As events moved rapidly in France so also in the Province. By the end of 1944 only Langford Lodge and Greencastle remained as USAAF stations. General Eisenhower flew in to give his personal thanks in August 1945 and the US flag came down at Langford Lodge in March 1946, bringing to an end a remarkable feat of organisation and training.
  • 18th December 1943
    The 3rd Tactical Air Force was formed to provide offensive support to operations in Burma
  • 4th October 1943
    Air Commandant Lady Mary Welsh appointed Director of the WAAF.
  • 15th September 1943
    RAF Regiment units deploy for action by air for the first time. No.2909 Sqn is flown into the Greek island of Cos, and No.2682 Sqn is flown into Southern Italy.
  • 4th July 1943
    The first glider, a Waco CG-4A, crossed the Atlantic from Dorval to Prestwick.
  • 30th June 1943
    First use of Serrate radar homing equipment fitted in RAF nightfighting aircraft. The receivers allowed Beaufighters to home in on German night-fighter interception radars.
  • 16th May 1943 - 17th May 1943
    Operation Chastise – The bombing of Dams in the Ruhr valley (Germany) using specially invented Bouncing bombs
  • 1st March 1943 - 1st May 1943
    Six U-boats sunk by aircraft of 86,120 and 220 Squadrons, based at Aldergrove. Between February and November a total of at least 18 U-boats sunk by Northern Ireland based aircraft. Toome and Cluntoe were activated as Combat Crew Replacement Centres for B-26 Marauders/A-6 Havocs and B-17 Flying Fortresses respectively. Cluntoe changed to B-24 Liberators in 1944. Greencastle was the home of the 42nd Air Depot Group, repairing and modifying B-17s. Maghaberry was used primarily as a base for aircraft ferry squadrons and also as a transit point for casualty evacuation, due the proximity of the US Army’s 79th Station Hospital at Moira. The facilities at Langford Lodge, Sydenham and Greencastle were almost overwhelmed by the sheer numbers of aircraft being made ready for the European theatre. Long Kesh was a main diversionary airfield and also the base for the US Navy Courier Service flying Lockheed PV-1 Venturas.
  • 1st March 1943 - 1st May 1943
    Six U-boats sunk by aircraft of 86,120 and 220 Squadrons, based at Aldergrove. Between February and November a total of at least 18 U-boats sunk by Northern Ireland based aircraft. Toome and Cluntoe were activated as Combat Crew Replacement Centres for B-26 Marauders/A-6 Havocs and B-17 Flying Fortresses respectively. Cluntoe changed to B-24 Liberators in 1944. Greencastle was the home of the 42nd Air Depot Group, repairing and modifying B-17s. Maghaberry was used primarily as a base for aircraft ferry squadrons and also as a transit point for casualty evacuation, due the proximity of the US Army’s 79th Station Hospital at Moira. The facilities at Langford Lodge, Sydenham and Greencastle were almost overwhelmed by the sheer numbers of aircraft being made ready for the European theatre. Long Kesh was a main diversionary airfield and also the base for the US Navy Courier Service flying Lockheed PV-1 Venturas.
  • 1st January 1943
    Aircraft of 201 and 423 Squadrons, operating from Castle Archdale, Co.Fermanagh sank four U-boats. During the war six different Short Sunderland squadrons operated from there.
  • 1st January 1943
    Aircraft of 201 and 423 Squadrons, operating from Castle Archdale, Co.Fermanagh sank four U-boats. During the war six different Short Sunderland squadrons operated from there.
  • 12th June 1942
    A Coastal Command Beaufighter, piloted by Flt Lt K Gatward, makes a daylight flight to Paris and drops a French Tricolour over the tomb of the unknown soldier.
  • 22nd February 1942
    Air Marshal Arthur "Bomber" Harris is appointed Commander-in-Chief RAF Bomber Command
  • 1st February 1942
    Work began on what was to become the 3rd Base Air Depot of the USAAF at Langford Lodge. By the end of the war the Lockheed Overseas Corporation at Langford Lodge had assembled 3250 aircraft, serviced 11,000 more and overhauled 450,000 components. Northern Ireland also made a contribution in respect of the Glider Pilot Regiment. During the summer of 1942 long-distance training exercises were flown with small Hotspur training gliders or using Horsas, to Long Kesh and Nutts Corner.
  • 1st January 1942
    Establishment of radar station at Bishops Court
  • 1st August 1941
    Establishment of No.8 Ferry Pool of the Air Transport Auxiliary (ATA). The Commanding Officer, O.E. Armstrong, was a very well-known pre-war airline pilot, indeed it was he who operated the very first Aer Lingus service from Baldonnel to Bristol in the D.H.84, EI-ABI, Iolar on 27th May 1936. The prime reason for the No.8 Pool's existence was the delivery of Short Stirlings from the manufacturer to the RAF. Many other types were flown included Vickers Wellington bombers to and from Aldergrove and single-engine fighters from the mainland for loading onto aircraft carriers.
  • 1st July 1941
    The Squadron was transferred to Ballyhalbert, where a fighter airfield and Sector HQ had been completed. This remained the Province's main fighter station for the rest of the war, being equipped successively with Boulton Paul Defiants, Bristol Beaufighters and Supermarine Spitfires. Fighters were also based in the mid-war period nearby at Kirkistown, at Eglinton in the northwest and at St Angelo in Fermanagh. Eglinton's first fighters were the Hurricane IIbs of No.133 (Eagle) Squadron in the Autumn of 1941.
  • 1st June 1941
    Ballyhalbert opened as a fighter airfield. The ad-hoc arrangements of the early days, with obsolete Hawker Demons being flown by instructors from Sydenham and the Bombing and Gunnery School at Aldergrove providing Blackburn Rocs and Skuas was proven to be totally inadequate by the devastation wrought in the Belfast Blitz of April and May 1941. By that time No.245 Squadron, based at Aldergrove was providing fighter cover for the Province. Although not equipped for night fighting, the Hurricanes of 245 Squadron took to the air. To avoid collisions, all sorties were flown by single aircraft and some limited success was achieved.
  • 1st June 1941
    RAF Ballykelly opened for anti-U-boat operations.
  • 15th May 1941
    Frank Whittle’s W.1 jet aircraft, the Gloster E.28/39, successfully completed its historic first flight at RAF Cranwell
  • 1st May 1941
    Nutts Corner opened as a Coastal Command base and later became a Ferry Terminal Airfield.
  • 16th April 1941
    First kill by Beaufighter of 252 Squadron based at Aldergrove, a Focke Wulf Condor, 90 miles west of Ireland. Further aircraft shot down in May and July by Hudsons of 233 Squadron.
  • 10th April 1941
    All WAAF personnel are declared members of the Armed Forces of the Crown.
  • 7th April 1941
    First of the five raids of the Belfast Blitz. One enemy aircraft shot down by S/L John Simpson of 245 Squadron based at Aldergrove.
  • 1st April 1941
    Eglinton opened as a satellite of RAF Limavady.
  • 6th February 1941
    The Royal Air Force's Air Sea Rescue Service (SARF or SAR Force) starts duties for the first time.
  • 5th February 1941
    The Air Training Corps (ATC) is constituted.
  • 1st January 1941
    The first mobile Ground Controlled Interception (GCI) radar station is sited and manned at Sopley.
  • 1st December 1940
    RAF Coastal Command station at Limavady opened. One of Ulster's main contributions to the war was as a base for Coastal Command (RAFCC) squadrons, as they waged an unceasing and bitter struggle against the U-boat menace - actively engaged from the first day of the war to the last. It can be argued with considerable justification that the contribution made by the aircraft of Coastal Command based in Northern Ireland was vital to the ultimate victory achieved in the Battle of the Atlantic. The sole base to begin with was Aldergrove but Limavady, Nutts Corner, Lough Erne/Castle Archdale and Ballykelly were all constructed and opened by 1942.
  • 11th November 1940
    The first ever trans-Atlantic delivery flight of seven Lockheed Hudsons from Botwood, Newfoundland to Aldergrove. The formation leader was the renowned Captain Donald Bennett, later the creator of the "Pathfinders".
  • 1st November 1940
    Flt Off Elspeth Henderson, Sgt Joan Mortimer and Sgt Helen Turner awarded the Military Medal for their bravery during a bombing raid at Biggin Hill during the Battle of Britain. They were three of six WAAFs awarded the Military Medal during the Second World War.
  • 8th October 1940
    Czechoslovakian-born Joesf Frantisek dies when his Hurricane crash lands in Ewell, Surrey. With 17 confirmed victories in 28 days, he was the highest scoring RAF fighter pilot in the Battle of Britain at the time of his death.
  • 5th September 1940
    'Bromide' Radio Counter Measure (RCM) transmitters are first used to jam enemy 'Ruffian' beams, marking the effective start of electronic countermeasures.
  • 17th August 1940
    Plt Off William Mead Lindsey 'Billy' Fiske is the first American citizen to die while serving with the RAF during the Second World War.
  • 16th August 1940
    Flt Lt E.J.B. Nicolson is awarded the Victoria Cross for shooting down an enemy aircraft near Southampton even though his own aircraft had been hit and was on fire. This was the only Fighter Command VC to be awarded during the Second World War.
  • 1st August 1940
    RAF Northern Ireland is created as an independent command.
  • 10th July 1940 - 31st October 1940
    The Battle of Britain
  • 1st July 1940
    The RAF announces intention to create two Polish fighter Squadrons: 302 and 303 Squadrons. No. 303 Squadron becomes the most successful squadron of the Battle of Britain, shooting down 126 enemy aircraft in just 42 days.
  • 21st June 1940
    The Parachute Training School at Ringway is formed by the RAF.
  • 18th June 1940
    The Fall of France.
  • 29th May 1940
    The first fighter operations using Very High Frequency (VHF) Radio Telephone control take place during the air battle over Dunkirk.
  • 27th May 1940
    Royal Air Force Training Command is replaced by Flying Training Command and Technical Training Command. The Royal Air Force Reserve Command is disbanded.
  • 26th May 1940 - 4th June 1940
    Operation Dynamo- the evacuation of British and French troops from Dunkirk- sees 338,226 Allied troops brought back to the UK. Fighter squadrons of No.11 Group RAF Fighter Command provide fighter cover throughout the evacuation, operating from south-east England.
  • 17th May 1940
    The Ministry of Aircraft Production is constituted.
  • 17th May 1940
    Lord Beaverbrook appointed the first Minister of Aircraft production.
  • 29th April 1940
    The Empire Air Training Scheme begins in Canada, Australia and New Zealand.
  • 24th April 1940
    The Air Council establishes a Royal Air Force Technical Branch.
  • 20th April 1940
    The training of air crews under the Empire Air Training Scheme begins. It is later re titled the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan.
  • 8th April 1940
    Civilian Repair Organisation (CRO) created. The organisation is designed to use civilian resources for the rapid repair of RAF aircraft, returning them to the front line without using RAF engineering resources. A total of 80,666 aircraft are repaired by the CRO between 1940 and 1945.
  • 25th February 1940
    The first Royal Canadian Air Force unit arrives in the United Kingdom.
  • 8th January 1940
    The first successful mine sweeping against enemy magnetic takes place in the Thames Estuary. It is carried out by specially fitted Wellington aircraft of Coastal Command.
  • 26th December 1939
    The first Royal Australian Air Force squadron, No.10 Squadron RAAF, arrives in Britain for service alongside the Royal Air Force.
  • 14th December 1939
    Pauline Gower was given authority to appoint women to the Air Transport Auxiliary (ATA). In January 1940, the eight women selected as pilots were revealed at a press launch. These women had extensive flying experience having worked as flying instructors and flown in aerial circuses during the interwar period.
  • 22nd November 1939
    Flt Lt M.V. 'Shorty' Longbottom makes the first successful photographic reconnaissance sortie.
  • 1st November 1939
    First Chain Home Low radar station made operational in Fifeness.
  • 1st November 1939
    By November 1939, 8,800 women have been recruited to the WAAF. The upper-age limit is increased to 50 for women with experience of radar plotting of aircraft.
  • 1st November 1939
    It is believed that No.72 Squadron made its first visit to Northern Ireland while equipped with Gladiators, to attend a course at No.2 Armament Training School at RAF Aldergrove.
  • 1st November 1939
    No.3 Air Observers School at Aldergrove reconstituted as No.3 Bombing and Gunnery School.
  • 30th October 1939
    Operational service trials of Very High Frequency Radio Telephone are held at Duxford.
  • 10th October 1939
    Empire air training scheme, operating in Canada, New Zealand and Australia, is announced.
  • 24th September 1939
    The first U-boat sighting was made in the early days of the war, on 24 September, close to Rathlin Island by OC B Flight, Flt. Lieut. Philip Billing, in Anson N5104. It was attacked as it submerged but no hits were observed.
  • 20th September 1939
    First engagement between the RAF and the Luftwaffe takes place.
  • 20th September 1939
    The first WAAF plotters go on watch in Fighter Command Filter Rooms.
  • 3rd September 1939
    Start of the Second World War
  • 1st September 1939 - 8th May 1945
    Aldergrove remained a very important wartime base for the RAF- particularly for Coastal Command. In Northern Ireland, many other airfields were established and used extensively by RAF, Royal Navy and US Army Air Force. Over 1200 Short Stirling heavy bombers and many hundreds of Short Sunderland flying boats manufactured in Belfast.
  • 1st September 1939
    Germany invades Poland
  • 26th August 1939
    Readiness State 'D' is put into force, aircraft are dispersed on their airfields and all personnel are recalled. 'E'-Class reservists are also ordered to report to their units.
  • 24th August 1939
    The Air Ministry declares Readiness State 'C' and mobilisation starts with aircraft placed on a 12-hour standby and staff on leave recalled to duty. Auxiliary Air Force and Volunteer Reserve personnel are ordered to report to their mobilisation centres.
  • 1st August 1939
    First airborne interception (AI) radar sets are fitted into 30 Royal Air Force Bristol Blenheim aircraft.
  • 28th June 1939
    The Women's Auxiliary Air Force formed
  • 20th May 1939
    The last Empire Air Day takes place with 60 RAF stations and 18 other airfields participating. Approximately 1 million visitors attend.
  • 1st January 1939
    With the prospect of war looming ever closer, it received a monoplane aircraft for the first time in January 1939. Over the next eight months 19 Avro Ansons were delivered. The function of the squadron was also changed to reconnaissance and it became part of 18 Group Coastal Command in November 1938 and then 15 Group in June 1939.
  • 17th July 1938
    First United Kingdom Air Defence Corps squadron formed at Leicester.
  • 1st July 1938
    The Civil Air Guard is created to ensure a reserve of civil pilots of both sexes, which it will achieve by subsidising training in light aeroplane clubs. 35,000 applied when the scheme was launched, with 4,000 already in possession of type ‘A’ pilot’s licences.
  • 1st April 1938
    No.1 ATS and No.2 ATS at Aldergrove combined to become No.3 Air Observers School.
  • 1st April 1938
    RAF Maintenance Command is formed at Andover, under the command of Air Vice Marshal J.S.T. Bradley.
  • 11th March 1938
    Hitler orders the German occupation of Austria.
  • 1st January 1938
    Armament Training Camp at Aldergrove became No.2 Armament Training School (2 ATS). Aircraft at the unit included Fairey Battles and Hawker Henleys.
  • 3rd September 1937
    First successful use of Air-to-Surface Vessel (ASV) radar equipment occurs when the battleship HMS Rodney and the aircraft carrier HMS Courageous are located at a range of 5 miles.
  • 30th June 1937
    Flt Lt M.J. Adam sets new altitude record of 53,937 feet while piloting a Bristol 138 at Farnborough.
  • 1st May 1937
    The first air defence radio location (radar) station at Bawdsey Manor is transferred to the RAF.
  • 1st March 1937
    First airborne radar is fitted to a Handley Page Heyford based at Martlesham Heath.
  • 1st November 1936
    The Balloon Barrage Scheme is announced.
  • 28th September 1936
    A new world altitude record of 15,223 metres (49,944 feet) is established by Squadron Leader S.R. Swain while piloting a Bristol Type 138 from Farnborough, Hampshire.
  • 17th September 1936 - 24th September 1936
    First full-scale trials of a Radio Direction Finding (RDF), or radar, system are carried out by the RAF. Results of the trial are mixed, however the Chief of the Air Staff concludes that they have proved the concept of an RDF system and justified the development of RDF as part of the air defences of the United Kingdom.
  • 14th July 1936
    Air Defence Great Britain is divided into Bomber and Fighter commands.
  • 1st July 1936
    The RAF Volunteer Reserve (RAFVR) formed.
  • 1st May 1936
    Coastal and Training commands formed.
  • 5th March 1936
    The Supermarine Spitfire flies for the first time. The 8 minute test flight was piloted by Captain Joseph 'Mutt' Summers and took off from Eastleigh airfield in Hampshire. The Spitfire, that was designed by engineer RJ Mitchell, became one of the most successful fighter aircraft ever made.
  • 1st March 1936
    As part of its expansion programme, the RAF sets up an Armament Training Camp at Aldergrove. Fairly rudimentary target facilities already existed on the eastern shore of Lough Neagh to meet the needs of No.502 Squadron. These were developed and expanded to provide for practice and live bombing, as well as air to air and air to ground firing. The initial establishment of No.2 Armament Training camp was Westland Wallaces.
  • 1st January 1936
    Establishment of Meteorological Flight at Aldergrove.
  • 23rd July 1935
    The first report on radio direction finding, which would later be renamed radar, made to the Air Defence Research Committee in the United Kingdom.
  • 22nd March 1935
    Proposals to increase the strength of the RAF by 1,500 by 1937 announced.
  • 26th February 1935
    The first practical demonstration of the use of radio to detect aircraft is carried out following proposals advanced by Mr R.A. Watson Watt, the Superintendent of the National Physical Laboratory's Radio Department, to the Committee for Scientific Survey of Air Defence (CSSAD).
  • 14th January 1935
    Air Chief Marshal Sir Cyril Newall becomes Air Member Supply and Organisation, replacing Air Marshal Sir Hugh Dowding who becomes Air Member for Research and Development.
  • 1st August 1934
    The first Avro Rota autogiros entered RAF service with the School of Army Co-operation at RAF Old Sarum. It is the RAF's first rotating-wing aircraft.
  • 18th July 1934
    Expansion Scheme 'A', the first RAF expansion scheme, approved. The scheme supports the growth of the RAF to a strength 111 front-line squadrons at home and overseas (1,252 aircraft) and 16 Fleet Air Arm squadrons (213 aircraft) by 31st March 1939.
  • 24th May 1934
    RAF stations open for the first Empire Air Day. All proceeds raised are donated to the RAFBF.
  • 6th February 1933
    Squadron Leader O.R. Gayford and Flight Lieutenant G.E. Nicholetts set a new nonstop world long distance record in the Fairey Long Range Monoplane MkII. Flying from RAF Cranwell to Walvis Bay in South Africa, the flight covers a total of 5,309 miles (8,544 kilometres).
  • 1st January 1933
    Rank of Sergeant Major is abolished in the RAF and replaced by Warrant Officer.
  • 16th November 1932
    A formation of Vickers Virginias of 502 Squadron took off from Aldergrove to provide the Prince of Wales with an aerial escort as he arrived in Belfast for the opening of the new Parliament Buildings at Stormont.
  • 1st January 1932 - 31st December 1935
    Cobham's Flying Circus saw aviation pioneer Sir Alan Cobham inspire many to fly through his National Aviation Day Display. The circus toured Great Britain, Ireland and South Africa and gave nearly nearly one million people their first experience of flight. The displays inspired a generation of RAF pilots who would go on to serve in the Second World War.
  • 26th October 1931
    The de Havilland Tiger Moth had its first flight. The aircraft was built as a training aircraft for both civilian and military pilots and went on to become an all-time classic British aircraft design.
  • 29th September 1931
    Flight Lieutenant G Stainforth set a new world speed record of 407.5mph.
  • 19th January 1931
    Air Marshal Sir Robert Brooke-Popham becomes the first RAF Officer to serve as commandant of the IDC.
  • 1st September 1930
    Air Marshal Sir Hugh Dowding made Air Member for Supply and Research on the Air Council.
  • 1st January 1930
    RAF Far East Command formed.
  • 12th September 1929
    Squadron Leader A.H. Orlebar sets a new world speed record of 357mph at Calshot in a Supermarine S6 seaplane.
  • 7th September 1929
    Flight Lieutenant R.L.R. Atcherley sets 100 kilometre closed-circuit record of 331mph at Calshot in a Supermarine S6.
  • 24th April 1929
    The first non-stop flight between Britain and India (4130miles) completed in a time of 50hrs and 37 mins.
  • 1st March 1929
    Control of the Observer Corps transferred from the War Office to the RAF.
  • 7th February 1928 - 22nd February 1928
    The first solo flight from the UK to Australia is made covering a distance of 11,000 miles. The flight is made be retired RAF Squadron Leader Bert Hinkler in an Avro Avian.
  • 1st January 1927
    The Imperial Defence College (IDC) opened.
  • 1st January 1927
    Air Chief Marshal Sir Hugh Trenchard promoted to Marshal of the RAF.
  • 1st July 1926
    A civilian meteorological unit established under the direction of J.D.Ashton at Aldergrove.
  • 17th June 1926
    Plt Officer Eric Pentland first RAF officer to bale out in an emergency.
  • 25th March 1926
    Round Ulster flight by four Vickers Vimys of 502 Squadron.
  • 29th October 1925
    The Observer Corps formed.
  • 1st September 1925 - 1st July 1926
    First visits to Belfast of Supermarine Southamptons from No.480 Coastal Reconnaissance Flight.
  • 1st May 1925
    Northern Ireland's own Special Reserve unit No.502 (Ulster) Squadron RAF was formed at Aldergrove. The new squadron first occupied the hangars and buildings formerly used by No.16 AAP and a recruiting office in Belfast was opened in July. The first aircraft on strength were Avro 504 twin-seat biplane trainers and the much larger Vickers Vimy twin-engine bombers which served with No.502 Squadron until 1928, when they were replaced by the Handley Page Hyderabad, the last heavy bomber of wooden construction to serve with the RAF.
  • 9th March 1925 - 1st May 1925
    The RAF involved in its first independent air action in Waziristan, India. Led by Wg Cdr RCM Pink, aircraft from Nos. 5, 27 and 60 Squadrons bomb and strafe mountain strongholds in an attempt to crush the rebellion by Mahsud tribesmen. The campaign was a successful one and, on May 1, the rebel leaders seek an honourable peace. The short campaign becomes known as ‘Pink's War.'
  • 1st March 1925
    The first University Air Squadron (UAS) created at Cambridge University. Later this year, in October, the Oxford University Air Squadron is formed.
  • 1st January 1925
    Air Defences of Great Britain formed.
  • 1st May 1924
    The Armstrong Whitworth Siskin III is the RAF's first all metal fighter to enter service.
  • 1st April 1924
    The Fleet Air Arm of the RAF formed
  • 1st April 1924
    The Marine Aircraft Experimental Establishment is formed at Felixstowe under the command of Wing Commander C.E.H. Rathbone.
  • 24th March 1924
    The Aeroplane and Armament Experimental Establishment created at RAF Martlesham Heath under the command of Wing Commander N.J. Gill.
  • 1st February 1923
    All the Bristol Fighters departed Aldergrove for Farnborough and the airfield was placed under care and maintenance.
  • 7th June 1922 - 23rd October 1922
    RAF units based in Ireland, No.2 Squadron at Oranmore, Fermoy and Castlebar with Bristol F2B Fighters, No.100 Squadron at Baldonnel, firstly with Handley Page O/400s and then Bristol Fighters. The reason for the existence of No.16 Air Acceptance Park may have ceased but Aldergrove was kept available and a flight of Bristol Fighters from No.4 Squadron Royal Air Force was stationed there from 1920 to 1922. Communications with 11 Group Headquarters were maintained by the D.H.9s and Bristol Fighters of 100 Squadron based at Baldonnel. With the signing of the Anglo-Irish Treaty, the RAF began the process of withdrawal from the Free State in 1922. However with the probability of civil war between the supporters and opponents of the Treaty looming, it was decided to retain the Irish Flight of four Bristol Fighters at Baldonnel to protect the evacuation of British forces.
  • 31st May 1922
    No.2 Squadron moved from England to Aldergrove. Twelve Bristol Fighters were dispatched from RAF Digby and flew via Collinstown to Aldergrove. The squadron's principal tasks were defined as, "the establishment of an aerial mail between Belfast and Dublin and preparations to co-operate with various brigades and patrols along the Ulster border."
  • 1st February 1922
    The RAF Iraq Command is created with Air Vice Marshal Sir John Salmond as the first Air Officer Commanding Iraq.
  • 1st February 1922
    The Royal Air Force Reserve created.
  • 14th February 1921
    Winston Churchill made Secretary of State for the Colonies and Air.
  • 27th January 1921
    RAF Nursing Service (RAFNS) established, becoming a permanent feature of the RAF. The unit was a women-only branch until 1980 when men were allowed to join and became part of the Tri-Service Defence Nursing Services in 1985.
  • 3rd July 1920
    First RAF Pageant held at Hendon. The pageant, that later became known as the RAF Display, was attended by 60,000.
  • 1st April 1920
    The WRAF disbanded.
  • 1st April 1920
    RAF Central Band created at Uxbridge.It went on to become the first military band to broadcast on BBC Radio.
  • 5th February 1920
    The RAF College Cranwell opened.
  • 5th February 1920
    Air Commodore C.A.H. Longcroft appointed the first commandant of RAF College Cranwell.
  • 23rd October 1919
    The RAF Benevolent Fund (RAFBF) founded by Lord Hugh Trenchard. The welfare charity looks after all serving and former RAF personnel and their families.
  • 1st October 1919
    The School of Technical Training (Boys) established at at RAF Halton. Sets a tradition of apprentice training that continues until 1993.
  • 4th August 1919
    The Air Ministry Order introduced the RAF rank titles that are still used today.
  • 6th July 1919
    Major G H Scott and a crew of 30 RAF and USA Navy personnel make the first airship crossing of the Atlantic flying an R34 airship from East Fortune to New York.
  • 29th May 1919
    Proposal to gift 100 surplus aircraft to each dominion of the Empire approved by the War Cabinet. De Havilland DH9 and DH9A bombers, Sopwith Dolphins and Salamanders, Bristol F2Bs, Royal Aircraft Factory SE5A fighters and Avro 504 trainers are among the aircraft gifted. The 'Imperial Gift', as it became known, laid the foundations for the forming air forces in Australia, South Africa and Canada.
  • 24th March 1919
    The first group of WRAFs arrived in France for their overseas service. Later in the year a contingent is also sent to Germany. Based in Cologne, they assisted the army of occupation and replaced men demobilised from the forces. Employed in a variety of roles as domestics, clerks, telephonists, nurses and drivers, they became known as 'Ladies of the Rhine'.
  • 11th January 1919
    The Department of Civil Aviation formed within the Air Ministry.
  • 11th January 1919
    Major General Sir Frederick Sykes appointed the first Controller-General of the Department of Civil Aviation.
  • 1st January 1919 - 1st January 1921
    RAF units based in Ireland, No.2 Squadron at Oranmore, Fermoy and Castlebar with Bristol F2B Fighters, No.100 Squadron at Baldonnel, firstly with Handley Page O/400s and then Bristol Fighters. The reason for the existence of No.16 Air Acceptance Park may have ceased but Aldergrove was kept available and a flight of Bristol Fighters from No.4 Squadron Royal Air Force was stationed there from 1920 to 1922. Communications with 11 Group Headquarters were maintained by the D.H.9s and Bristol Fighters of 100 Squadron based at Baldonnel. With the signing of the Anglo-Irish Treaty, the RAF began the process of withdrawal from the Free State in 1922. However with the probability of civil war between the supporters and opponents of the Treaty looming, it was decided to retain the Irish Flight of four Bristol Fighters at Baldonnel to protect the evacuation of British forces.
  • 11th November 1918
    The First World War ends.
  • 14th October 1918
    1,650lb ‘SN’ bomb, the largest explosive of the war, is dropped by a Handley Page 0/400 aircraft. It was so large that it needed to be carried externally under the bomb bay.
  • 1st September 1918 - 1st December 1919
    Helen Gwynne-Vaughan Commandant of the WRAF.
  • 22nd July 1918
    Indra Lal Roy killed in action when shot down by a German fighter pilot. With 10 victories, he was the only Indian fighter ace of the First World War.
  • 3rd June 1918
    The Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC) established. It is awarded to Officers and Warrant Officers for "an act or acts of valour and courage or devotion to duty performed whilst flying in active operations against the enemy"
  • 3rd June 1918
    The Air Force Cross (AFC) established. It is awarded to Officers and Warrant Officers of the RAF for "an act of valour and courage or devotion to duty performed whilst flying, though not in active operations against the enemy."
  • 1st May 1918
    105 Squadron, equipped with R.E.8s, sent to Omagh. Its duties were to support the Army on the ground on reconnaissance and communications tasks.
  • 1st April 1918
    The Royal Air Force (RAF) formally comes into existence. The Women’s Royal Air Force (WRAF) was created alongside the male service.
  • 1st January 1918
    Major-General Sir Hugh Trenchard made the first Chief of Air Staff.
  • 29th November 1917
    The Air Force Constitution Act passed in Parliament, receiving Royal assent. It combined the RFC and the RNAS to form a new service- the RAF.
  • 1st November 1917
    Aldergrove selected to be a Royal Flying Corps training establishment during the First World War, in the event it became instead No.16 Aircraft Acceptance Park when Harland and Wolff gained the contract to manufacture the Handley Page V/1500. Aldergrove was used to test fly the aircraft, the first of which, the first (E4307), flew from there on 20th December 1918, piloted by Clifford Prodger.
  • 1st September 1917
    Air fighting schools established in Britain.
  • 5th August 1917
    The London Air Defence Area (LADA) formed and Major General E.B. Ashmore is given command.
  • 29th May 1917
    The first British air sea rescue takes place when two seaplane crew are rescued from North Sea by Flt Cmdr L. Gordon and Flt Lt G. Hodgson in flying boat.
  • 29th May 1917
    Sergeant William Robinson Clarke becomes the first black volunteer in the armed forces to qualify as a pilot.
  • 1st May 1917 - 1st June 1917
    The farm land which is now part of Aldergrove and Belfast international Airport was surveyed by Major Sholto Douglas RFC. In addition, he also chose the sites which became Dublin Airport at Collinstown and Baldonnel, subsequently the HQ of the Irish Air Corps.
  • 6th April 1917
    Hardit Malik commissioned into the RFC, becoming the first Indian pilot to join the service.
  • 20th March 1917
    Lt F.H. McNamara of No.67 (Australian) Squadron, RFC awarded the VC after rescuing a pilot on the ground. He was the only Australian airman to be awarded the VC during the First World War.
  • 19th February 1917
    The first recorded aeromedical evacuation flight carried out by the RFC, when a wounded trooper of the Imperial Camel Corps is flown from Bir-el-Hassana in the Sinai Desert to the airfield at Kilo 143 in an RFC aircraft. This would have been a 3 day journey by the available surface transport, but the flight took just 45 minutes.
  • 2nd September 1916 - 3rd September 1916
    Lieutenant William Leefe Robinson shoots down a German airship over Cuffley in Hertfordshire. He is the first pilot to shoot down a German airship over Britain and subsequently awarded a VC for his actions.
  • 18th June 1916
    Second Lieutenant G.R. McCubbin and Corporal J.H. Waller of No.25 Squadron RFC credited with shooting down German air ace Oberleutnant Max Immelmann. McCubbin is awarded the DSO and Waller is awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal.
  • 1st April 1916
    The RNAS Central Training Establishment at Cranwell officially opened.
  • 1st February 1916
    The first officially recorded air-to-ground telephone communication achieved by Major C.E. Prince.
  • 7th June 1915
    Reginald ‘Rex’ Warneford becomes the first airman to take down a German airship in mid-air and is awarded the VC for his actions. He is the first naval aviator to receive the VC.
  • 1st January 1915
    The Experimental Photographic Section of the RFC formed under the command of Lt J.T.C. Moore Brabazon.
  • 15th September 1914
    Air photography and wireless telegraphy for artillery observation in combat used for the first time during the Battle of the Aisne.
  • 4th August 1914
    The start of the First World War.
  • 4th August 1914 - 11th November 1918
    During the First World War, twenty-three airfields and airship bases are established in Ireland for the RFC, Royal Naval Air Service (RNAS), US Naval Air Service and Royal Air Force (RAF).
  • 1st July 1914
    Royal Naval Air Service (RNAS) formed.
  • 1st September 1913
    Captain George William Patrick Dawes landed on the beach at Newcastle, Co. Down near the Slieve Donard Hotel. This was the first ever overseas deployment of the Royal Flying Corps (RFC). Five BE2a aircraft and one Maurice Farman Longhorn, flew from Scotland on their way to take part in large-scale Irish Command manoeuvres centred around Rathbane Camp near Limerick.
  • 1st June 1913
    The formation of the first military flying school in the British Empire outside the United Kingdom is announced by the Australian Minister of Defence. Early the following year, the school is established on a site at Point Cooke in Victoria.
  • 4th June 1912
    Corporal Frank Ridd is the first non-commissioned officer to qualify as a pilot in the UK.
  • 13th April 1912
    The Royal Flying Corps (RFC) formed as part of the British Army. It is constituted by Royal warrant and includes a naval wing and military wing. It also includes a central flying school at Upavon and an aircraft factory at Farnborough.