The Turner Novels -

The Aviators

Hugh Trenchard

Hugh TrenchardAt the age of 39, and 6'3" tall, Major Hugh Trenchard was not considered ideal pilot material. But the obstacles placed in his way only made him more determined to succeed.

 He enrolled at T.O.M. Sopwith's Flying School. His instructor, E. W. Copeland-Perry described him as a model pupil, tackling the task of learning to fly with "wonderful spirit". Sopwith admitted that Trenchard would never make a good pilot, but what he lacked in natural ability, he made up for with drive and determination.

Trenchard was determined to transfer to the Royal Flying Corps. By August of 1912 he had been co-opted on to the staff of the Central Flying School as adjutant.

On the outbreak of war he expected to go to France with the four operational squadrons, possibly as commander of the RFC in the field. Instead he found himself in command of the RFC at home, based at Farnborough, charged with the building of new squadrons.

As the war progressed Trenchard's career advanced with the development of the RFC. Nothing would stand in his way. If he could not achieve his aims through conventional channels, he would apply his own rules.

By the end of the conflict he had become a passionate advocate of an independent air force. His determination to succeed in this aim led to him being called the father of the RAF, though he would never agree to this himself.

His understanding of the potential of air power, and the certainty that this could only be achieved by outstanding men with the highest level of technical skills would lead him to adopt unusual, but effective recruiting methods.

Later in his career he would be responsible for setting up the RAF apprentice schemes for boy entrants into the RAF.

Many technical apprentices volunteered for aircrew duties in the Second World War and went on to reach the highest ranks in the service.

Many would claim that to be one of Trenchard's "brats", an ex Halton apprentice, carried more status than to be a graduate of the RAF College at Cranwell.


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