Reported in Scientific American: This Week in World War I: September 19, 1914

airmen training

Instructors talking to pilots at a British pilot-training camp, 1914. The aircraft appears to be a French Farman MF11 biplane, which has a “pusher” type propeller. Credit: Scientific American, September 19, 1914

The first few weeks of the Great War in Europe had convincingly shown the value of aircraft for reconnaissance work. The technology was brand new: workable airplanes were an invention less than ten years old. Armies scrambled to set up a steady supply of airplanes from manufacturers and trained pilots to fly them. The military also had to figure out how to best use and maintain their air army.

“The work of the Concentration Camp* at Netheravon in England opened on June 2nd with a conference of all officers, at which the commanding officer explained briefly the objects of the camp, viz.: to test in various ways the degree of training of the ‘personnel’ both on the ground and in the air, the work and handling of aircraft and transports and experiments of numerous sorts. There was also the study and co-ordination by means of lectures, discussions, conferences, and specially detailed committee, of the innumerable problems, such as mobilization, technical and military training, observation, including observation of artillery fire, workshops, stores, meteorology, wireless telegraphy, photography, bomb-dropping, and organization of all kinds, which are essential to the building up of an air service for military purposes on a firm and efficient basis. Although seventy machines were available, it was obvious that flying and the carrying out of tests with aircraft was only one phase of the instruction carried out, as will be seen from the brief notes of the work accomplished, and it will be readily understood that the results of tests could not in many cases be made public, for reasons of military expediency.”

*The term “concentration camp” is used in the older sense of a camp where personnel and resources are gathered together-Ed.

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