The Royal Flying Corps was established on the 13th of April 1912. It initially had both a military and a naval wing, but the naval wing later broke off to become the Royal Naval Air Service. Prior to the First World War, it had one balloon squadron and two aeroplane squadrons. By the time the war started, another four squadrons had been added. The RFC at this time was commanded by Sir David Henderson of Glasgow.
Before the war, potential candidates for the Royal Flying Corps needed at least some prior flying experience. However, during the war the shortage of pilots caused entry requirements to be lowered drastically, and new candidates only received between four to six weeks of training. Throughout their training, they spent between 10 and 20 hours in the air before they were sent to the front lines.
Fatal accidents were a common occurrence during training; many instructors were former pilots themselves, and were reluctant to risk their lives in a plane flown by a nervous recruit. As a result, many recruits only had one instructed flight before they had to fly solo.
The Royal Flying Corps was very important during the war due to its emphasis on gathering intelligence through aerial reconnaissance. During 1915 they made great advances in both aerial photography and wireless communication. In 1918 the Royal Flying Corps was merged with the Royal Naval Air Service, and became the Royal Air Force.