A Brief History of Royal Flying

Chris Harrison, Tuesday 18th September

It started in 1917 when Edward VIII, as Prince of Wales, became the first “royal” ever to pilot a plane. He was closely followed by his brother, eventually George VI. Edward VIII then became the first king to pilot a plane. The King’s Flight was formed and flew the Royal Family on tours around the world. These included Africa, India, and Malaysia, as well as the USA and even, in 1986, China. George VI was flown to Malta to present the island with the George Cross and later, on his death, the new Queen Elizabeth was returned to the UK.

There were accidents, none involving the Royal Family, but this resulted in restrictions being imposed as to who could fly in what type of aircraft. These did not prevent Princess Ann becoming the most frequent passenger of what had become the Royal Flight. There is no longer a dedicated royal flight, as The Queen’s Flight was disbanded in 1997, so the Queen was eventually able to fly in Concord. Did she mind?

Edward Prince of Wales climbs into Bristol F2B at
              Mousehold, Norwich in 1928 - First official allocated
              Royal aircraft J8430

(Above: Edward Prince of Wales climbs into Bristol F2B at Mousehold, Norwich in 1928 - First official allocated Royal aircraft J8430)

(Below: Edward, Prince of Wales with heavy flying kit & parachute 1930s)

Edward, Prince of Wales with heavy flying kit &
              parachute 1930s  (Below: Princess Anne, visiting HMS Vernon by Wessex helicopter)

Princess Anne, visiting HMS Vernon by Wessex
              helicopter

(Below: Rapide & BAe 146 at RAF Benson)

Rapide & BAe 146 at RAF Benson
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