YESTERDAY was the 100th birthday of the RAF.
Those early pilots of the First World War had a reputation - they were young and their careers short.
At one point during the war the average life expectancy of an Allied pilot was just 11 days. It was also said of those who flew in the First World War that they were mostly “a little over 20, former public schoolboys and soon dead.”
As our features writer Chris Bond says: “The popular image of the Great War in the air tends to be of fighter aces locked in gladiatorial combat, but to begin pilots were the eyes of the army.”
Aircraft were used for reconnaissance in August 1914 and the pilots were little more than chauffeurs. Later in the war they were feted as heroes - so brilliantly satirised by Lord Flashheart in the Blackadder series.
In the second world war they were the Glorious Few - the men who won the battle for Britain in the air.
In Leeds we played our part too - training pilots at Yeadon, where Leeds Bradford Airport stands now. Today we remember too, the wonderfully named Goldfish Club - an exclusive club for pilots who had ditched into the sea.
We have a lot to learn still from those young boys who were willing to give their lives for others.