Royal Flying Corps

The Royal Flying Corps was formed 13 April 1912 to fulfill a perceived need, common before World War I in European countries, to participate in the expanding field of aviation. It comprised a military wing, a naval wing (later the Royal Naval Air Service) and a flying school; duties included reconnaissance, bombing, observation for the artillery, co-operation with the infantry in attacking enemy positions, supply drops and observation for the Royal Navy. When WWI began, Canada did not have its own air force and, until the RFC established training camps in Canada in January 1917, the only way for a Canadian to become a war pilot was to enlist in the regular forces and try to transfer to the air service, or to travel at his own expense to England and attempt to enlist directly. It is impossible to determine the exact number of Canadians who joined the RFC, but it is estimated that over 20 000 Canadians had joined the British flying services by the end of WWI. Many of these became pilots, among them the Canadian "aces" Lt-Col W.A. Bishop, Lt-Col R. Collishaw, Lt-Col W.G. Barker, Maj D.R. MacLaren and others. The RFC joined with the RNAS to become the Royal Air Force on 1 April 1918.