The adventurous spirit of Frank Hedges Butler and Charles Rolls had a great influence on the world’s history. Together with Henry Royce, Charles Rolls founded car manufacturing firm Rolls Royce. Later, three wealthy motorists, Frank Hedges Butler, his daughter Vera and the Hon Charles Rolls, organized a motor tour, but this was cancelled when Vera’s Renault 4.5 caught fire. The lady arranged a balloon flight with the distinguished professional Stanley Spencer, as a distraction. Over a glass of champagne during the subsequent voyage, they agreed that an Aero Club should be formed and after landing this was done without delay. Due no doubt to the presence and personality
of Vera Butler, it was uniquely – for the time – agreed that it be open “equally to ladies and gentleman, subject to election”. The influence of the Club in those early days cannot be overemphasized. Its members included – and trained – most military pilots up to 1915, when military schools took over. The gift of training facilities and aircraft to the Royal Navy by Francis McLean was the real starting point of the Royal Naval Air Service. From 1910 the Club, which had been granted the Royal prefix that year for its achievements and status, issued Aviators Certifi cates, internationally recognised under the Federation Aeronautique Internationale.