PHOTO: LIBRARY AND ARCHIVES CANADA—PA62619
NCO pilot R.S. Grandy prepares for takeoff at Rockcliffe, Ont., in 1929.
World War I British pilots were usually commissioned officers. Non-commissioned officer pilots were a rarity until 1918, and were still greatly outnumbered by officers. And so by late 1919, the pilot's trade had reverted to being an officer's preserve.
Britain's air ministry decided in 1921 to reinstitute the training of NCO pilots. Candidates were drawn from the ranks of mechanics and skilled tradesmen. They were to possess "pluck, reliability, alertness, keenness and energy". Initially, it was expected that, having served fi...