Eleven years after the first powered flight, aviation emerged as a force capable of changing the face of battle in the First World War. In 1914, the Royal Flying Corps numbered just 1,500 people. By 1918, when the Royal Air Force was created, this number had grown to more than 205,000. The full strategic value of air power had become all too evident but the story of its impact has remained largely untold.
‘First World War in the Air’ offers visitors the opportunity to discover the vital work of Servicemen and women on the ground as well as the changing roles of those in the air. Personal artefacts including medals, letters and uniforms are on display inside an original First World War factory hangar ensuring that the bravery and sacrifice of these aviation pioneers will never be forgotten.
The exhibition includes an immersive display where visitors can experience a pilot’s off-duty life, learn Morse code and discover the smells of a First World War camp. A flight simulator enables people to experience how difficult it was to control and fly early aircraft in battle.
The exhibition is part of the Museum’s programme to celebrate and commemorate the RAF’s Centenary in 2018. When members of the public were invited to vote for the top 10 objects they would like to see in the exhibition, the museum received over 51,000 entries. Since opening in December 2014 the exhibition has attracted a total of 57 schools and colleges and more than 37,000 visitors.
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