At the start of the war, aircraft and machine guns were seen as leading edge tech, industrial development being a sign of human progress.
Pilots were seen as superior human beings through their association with high tech.
Comparison to Icarus and Daedelus.
Knight + steed -> pilot + plane
Lloyd George's speech "A nation thanks":
… special mention to be made of our air service. The heavens are their battlefield … they fight out the eternal issues of right and wrong … Miltonic conflict between the winged hosts of light and darkness … they recall the old legends of chivalry.
Lord Hugh Cecil, 1917:
combines … sport, … war, … gallantry
Aerial comat = gladiators
Tactics ad skill = support = upper class society and elitism
Upper class wanting to revert to times of chivalry, no middle class professions and merchants taking their wealth and power, no lower classes becoming independent (e.g. women working)
Start of RFC: organised that only officers could fly, and their recruitment was targetted at public school boys who could read Icarus in the original Greek. Other ranks were the mechanics and other services to keep the planes flying - knights vs. stable lads
Being a pilot was sold as being heroic and chivalrous - but poor training and poor planes meant very short life expectancy.
Darwin award to the establishment, already destabilising, for killing off their sons, thereby opening up the gates for the lower orders/
As public school boys ran out, flying was opened up to the other backgrounds
Egalitarianism has since survived in the RAF
Whitlock, Abby S., A Return to Camelot?: British Identity, The Masculine Ideal, and the Romanticization of the Royal Flying Corps Image
Abby Whitlock research blog
The origins of the organisational culture of the Royal Air Force; F. Monahan
Constructing the “Ace”: Feature Films in the Interwar Period and the Great War in the Air; Robert Morley
How the Royal Flying Corps' 'Superman' 'Image Masked a Crisis of Nervous Disorders During WWI; Joseph Hayes
Britain's `Lost Generation' of the First World War; J. M. Winter