Fly-past to mark centenary of the reconnaissance mission that saw start of British military air power

Captain Bertram Dickson Flying a Bristol Biplane over Stonehenge - Kenneth A. McDonough

A FLY-PAST of historic military aircraft is set to take place on Salisbury Plain next Tuesday 21st September to mark the centenary of the day an Army captain persuaded key political and Army figures of the importance of air power.

In September 1910, pioneering aviator Captain Bertram Dickson RHA FRGS demonstrated how the Bristol Boxkite could be used to gather intelligence over the countryside during the Autumn Army Manoevres at Larkhill, near Amesbury in Wiltshire.

Secretary of State for War Lord Haldane had told Captain Dickson early that summer “I see no future for aeronautics in the military”.

But after influential figures, such as Home Secretary Winston Churchill and General Kitchener, observed Captain Dickson carry out the 30-minute reconnaissance flight, The Royal Flying Corps – comprising Navy and Army wings – was formed two years later. His evidence to the Imperial Defence Committee was compelling …….it would lead to the inevitable result of a war in the air for the supremacy of the air by armed aeroplanes against each other. This fight for the supremacy in the air in future wars will be of the greatest importance.”

Now, exactly 100 years later, members of the armed services, defence industry and Dickson’s relatives are set to pay tribute to his crucial contribution to military aviation. The flypast including Austers from the Eggesford Heritage Flight, a Tiger Moth in RN livery, and a German Jungman will bring a historic flight back to the skies above Salisbury Plain.

Dickson himself was seriously hurt in the first mid-air collision in Italy just a week after the demonstration that changed history, eventually dying of his injuries three years later. But, thanks to his foresight and determination, it was not before the British had a military air service in place at the outbreak of war with Germany.

Leading military aviation historian Michael Hickey, comments “The success of Bertram Dickson`s first sorties by aeroplane on the 21st September 1910 altered the face of battlefield reconnaissance forever. His own personal belief in the urgent need for airpower in 1910 and his fight to achieve his goals, have established him in history as the founder of British military aviation.”

Even though he never flew after his accident, he continued his relentless effort to put sailors and soldiers in the skies. It is sad he never saw how vital his contribution was.

Editors’ Notes

Further information on Captain Bertram Dickon FRGS RHA is available by logging onto and

Press are invited to attend the flypast at Larkhill, near Amesbury, on Tuesday, September 21 with a facility starting at 1.45pm from Old Sarum airfield. The historic flight will take off at approximately 2.20pm. On board will be Sir George White Bt, the great grandson of the founder of the British and Colonial Aeroplane Company (which became the Bristol Aeroplane Company in 1920) and David Dickson, great nephew of Captain Bertram Dickson. Flying Office J Leslie RAF will be present with the original Schneider Cup awarded to Dickson in 1910.

For more details contact David Dickson on 07789 658522

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