To mark the centenary of the founding in 1912 of the Royal Flying Corps, forerunner of today's RAF, here we see Churchill taking a flying lesson in about 1914. His interest in aviation went back to before this date; as early as 1909, as a member of the Committee of Imperial Defence, he had seen the importance of aircraft in war, and had pressed for the Government to make use of the skills of the great aviation pioneer Orville Wright. Then once he became First Lord of the Admiralty he was responsible for the creation of the Royal Naval Air Service, and naturally, being Churchill, wanted to try this exciting new technology out for himself.
Churchill is pictured here with his flying instructor Captain Gilbert Wildman-Lushington (who was to be killed in a flying accident a few weeks after this photograph was taken) at the Royal Naval Air Service's aerodrome at Eastchurch in Kent. Churchill was immensely keen on "this fascinating new art", but after going up nearly 140 times (and suffering a number of accidents) he yielded to the entreaties of his worried friends and family and reluctantly gave it up.