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Central Flying School Gets Nod

20 SEP 1912: Official approval is given for the establishment of a military Central Flying School. Official formation of the Australian Flying Corps. The AFC went on to serve in Mesopotamia, the Middle East, and the Western Front and was the branch of the Australian Army responsible for operating aircraft during World War I, and the forerunner of the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF). The AFC was established in 1912, though it was not until 1914 that it began flight training.

In 1911, at the Imperial Conference held in London it was decided that aviation should be developed by the various national armed forces of the British Empire. Australia became the first member of the Empire to follow this policy. By the end of 1911, the Army was advertising for pilots and mechanics.

During 1912 pilots and mechanics were appointed, aircraft were ordered, the site of a flying school had been chosen and the first squadron was officially raised. On 7 March 1913, the government officially announced formation of the Central Flying School (CFS) and an “Australian Aviation Corps”, although that name was never widely used.

In March 1914, a staff officer, Major Edgar Reynolds, was officially appointed General Staff Officer in charge of a branch covering “intelligence, censorship, and aviation” within the Army’s Department of Military Operations.

Following the outbreak of World War I and the expansion of the Army, aviation became a separate branch commanded by Reynolds. However, during the war, AFC operational units were attached and subordinate to Australian ground forces and/or British ground and air commands. Reynolds’ role was mostly administrative rather than one that involved operational command.

Units were formed for service overseas with the Australian Imperial Force (AIF). They saw action, initially, in the Mesopotamian Campaign. It later saw action in both Palestine and France during World War I. In addition, a training wing was established in the United Kingdom. Following the end of the war, Reynolds was succeeded by Colonel Richard Williams. The corps remained part of the Australian Army until 1921, when it was re-established as the independent RAAF. Photo: R.E.8s of No 3 Sqn AFC.

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