While on leave from the RHA, Captain Dickson learnt to fly privately and completed training at Henry Farman’s School at Chalons in France and was issued with pilot’s licence No. 71 by the Aero Club de France on 12 May 1910.
He thus became the first British Serviceman to qualify as a pilot and at a time when the Government saw no future in Military Aviation. He was later awarded the Schneider Cup at Tours, the first international flying prize presented to a British pilot.
In September 1910, despite the fact that he had resigned his commission, the Army invited him to demonstrate the usefulness of aerial reconnaissance over their manoeuvres on Salisbury Plain. He took off from Larkhill at Dawn on 21 September 1910 flying a Bristol Boxkite and the success of his three flights were witnessed by Lord Kitchener, Lord Roberts, Sir John French, General Allenby, and Winston Churchill. This led to their strong support, which coupled with growing concern and pressure on the Government won the day for Military Aviation. An Army Order was issued for the formation of an Air Battalion R.E. with effect from 1 April 1911. Some 12 months later, the Royal Flying Corps was created on 13 April 1912 and the Air Battalion into the RFC.