Early Aviators - The First 500

The early days of aviation could never have existed without the intrepid men and women who flew these fragile machines.

The following pages are intended to give mini biographies of the first 500 recipients of the Royal Aero Clubs Aviators Certificate. A list of those Certificates up to No.1032 can be found on
Wikipedia, and this formed the starting point of the list here. A fuller list,covering 1910 to 1930, Aviators Certificates 1 through 9260, in alphabetical order of the holder, can be found on the Royal Aero Club Collection website.

This is, like the rest of the site, a work in progress. I have completed entries for 1 through 50, the others remaining as the original Wikipedia entry. These mini biographies will be expanded as need arises and time allows.

The Royal Aero Club - a Brief History

In 1901, three wealthy motorists, Frank Hedges Butler, his daughter Vera and the Hon Charles Rolls, had proposed a motor tour, but this was cancelled when Vera's Renault 4.5 caught fire. The lady arranged a balloon flight with the distinguished professional Stanley Spencer, as a distraction.

Over a glass of champagne during the subsequent voyage, passing near Sidcup in Kent, they agreed that an Aero Club should be formed and after landing this was done without delay. Due no doubt to the presence and personality of Vera Butler, it was uniquely - for the time - agreed that it be open "equally to ladies and gentleman, subject to election".

The influence of the Club in those early days cannot be over-emphasised. Its members included - and trained - most military pilots up to 1915, when military schools took over. By the end of the First World War, more than 6,300 military pilots had taken RAeC Aviator's Certificates. The gift of training facilities and aircraft to the Royal Navy by Francis McLean was the real starting point of the Royal Naval Air Service. The Club was granted the Royal prefix on 15th February 1910 for its achievements and status. From 1905, it issued Aeronauts' Certificates for balloonists and from 1910 it issued Aviators' Certificates for aircraft pilots, internationally recognised under the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale. As the United Kingdom representative on that august body, the Club was responsible for control in the UK of all private and sporting flying, as well as records and competitions; a function that, through the Aviation Council embracing some dozen national sporting and educational flying organisations, it fulfils to this day.

Certification Dates

The following is from by Philip Jarrett in Cross & Cockade International, Summer 2014:
"To start with, it has to be understood that the date that usually appeared on pre-First World War aviators’ certificates issued by the Royal Aero Club of the United Kingdom (RAeC) was not the date on which the aviator actually made the necessary qualifying flights in the presence of official observers, appointed by the RAeC, but the date of the meeting at which the RAeC Committee granted the certificate. Thus the actual date on which the flights were made usually predated the date on the certificate. However, there were occasions when a certificate was granted on the same day as the qualifying flights were made. This occurred when the flights happened to be made on the same day as a Committee meeting was held. There were also occasions on which aviators’ certificates were awarded on merit. One such example was ‘Colonel S.F. Cody’ (real name S.F. Cowdery), who was awarded certificate No.9 on merit, on Colonel Capper’s recommendation, on 7 June 1910, at a time when he actually did not have an airworthy aeroplane."

V1.4.4 Created by Roger Moss. Last updated August 2020