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Today we take flying for granted. to such an extent that it has almost entirely lost its mystique. We tend to forget that before the beginning of World War II most people had not even seen a plane, let alone flown in one.

The requirement for military aviators was first realised before World War I although exactly how planes and airmen fitted into modern war was still a bit of a mystery. By the end of World War I, it was no longer a mystery. Mastery of the air could help win a land war and to have mastery of the air required fighter aircraft and fighter pilots. It was also during World War I that the romantic notion of airborne knights duelling for control of the skies was first introduced. These were the Aces beloved by the publics of both sides.

Between 1919 and 1939 ground breaking Aviators who sought to break distance and time records were given the same sort of publicity as a modern media or sports star; their stories and the stories of the famous World War I aces attracted young men from Britain and its Imperial dominions to join the Royal Air Force. These were the young men who formed the backbone of the RAF during the Battle of Britain

The average Battle of Britain pilot was aged between 19 and 26 years old and came from a well to do and privately educated background. The RAF, however also tried to promote on merit and it was by no means unusual for gifted lower class men who had enlisted as mechanics to also achieve the cherished status of becoming a pilot.

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