The first aircraft were wooden-framed fuselages covered with doped linen, with wooden wings attached and a basic cockpit. These aircraft were unreliable, crashed frequently and crews did not carry parachutes. Early engines were weak, making it difficult to become airborne with a man inside, while any weaponry added to the weight. In the early days of the war, fire was the airman’s worst enemy rather than enemy pilots.
As technology developed, air combat became an exciting form of warfare in the eyes of the press and the public. The exploits of fighter pilots, or ‘aces’, were particularly romanticised, portrayed as noble ‘gentlemen duellists’ in the skies above the horror of the trenches.
The edge lettering of this coin pays tribute to the first aviators to sacrifice their lives in the race for the skies, remembering the days of the war when ‘The Sky Rained Heroes’