Royal Aero Club - Blog

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First Aircraft Shot Down
On 13 August 1914, 2, 3, and 4 Squadrons of the Royal Flying Corps (RFC) left Dover to join the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) in France. 5 Squadron joined them a few days later. On 19 August, the Corps undertook its first action of the War, with two of its aircraft performing aerial reconnaissance. The mission was not a great success. In order to save weight, each aircraft carried a pilot only, instead of the usual pair of pilot and observer. Because of this, and poor weather, both pilots lost their way and only one was able to complete his task. On 22 August 1914 – 100 years’ ago today - the first British aircraft to be shot down by the Germans was lost (above). The crew, pilot Second Lieutenant Vincent Waterfall (below, left) and observer Lt. Charles George Gordon Bayly (below, right), of 5 Squadron, flying an Avro 504 over Belgium, were killed by infantry fire. These “passport-type” photographs are from their Aviators’ Certificates (pilots’ licences) in the Royal Aero Club Collection. Copies of Certificates in the Collection can be provided, subject to terms and conditions.