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The Pictorial Flying Course | W. E. Johns

The Pictorial Flying Course | W. E. Johns

Price CHF 52.00 Sale


F/Lt H. M. Schofield & F/O W. E. Johns

JOHN HAMILTON, London, 1932 (First Edition)

The rare first edition of The Pictorial Flying Course, a practical illustrated guide to all aspects of learning to fly a biplane. The book is undated, but was published in May 1932. Each page has black and white line illustrations by W. E. Johns, with descriptive text below the illustrations, explaining the theory and practice of learning to fly. The illustrations all feature a small biplane, probably a Hawker Hart (which was flown by the RAF from 1930). The text is written in the style of an instructor talking to a pupil. The final section is entitled 'Types of Aircraft' and includes 16 black and white photographs of inter-war aircraft (Blackburn, Avro, Fairey, Supermarine, etc) with brief descriptive notes. The decorative endpapers feature illustrations of a 1930s RAF biplane (possibly a Hawker Hart) climbing and looping.
The subjects covered in the book include: Taking Off, Flying By Instinct, The First Flight, The Instruments, Control in Flight, Precautions, Turning, Getting Off, Landings, Stalling, Spinning, Forced Landings, First Solo, Looping, rules of the Air, and much more. The book is very well illustrated with line drawings by W. E. Johns, the WW1 pilot and celebrated author of the Biggles books.

W. E. Johns: William Earl Johns (1893–1968) was a pilot and writer of adventure stories, usually written under the pen name Captain W. E. Johns, although he never held that rank. He is best remembered as the creator of the ace pilot and adventurer Biggles.

In 1913 Johns enlisted in the Territorial Army as a private in the King's Own Royal Regiment (Norfolk Yeomanry). The regiment was mobilised in August 1914 and went overseas in September 1915. The Norfolk Yeomanry fought at Gallipoli until December when they were withdrawn to Egypt. In September 1916 Johns transferred to the Machine Gun Corps. While serving on the Macedonian front he was hospitalised with malaria. After recovering he was commissioned into the Royal Flying Corps in September 1917 and posted back to England for flight training. Johns trained at Coley Park in Reading, before being posted to No. 25 Flying Training School at Thetford.

On 1st April 1918, Johns was appointed flying instructor at Marske-by-the-Sea in Cleveland. He seems to have been failry accident-prone, writing off three aeroplanes in three days through engine failure. Later, he was caught in fog over the Tees, missed Hartlepool and narrowly escaped flying into a cliff. On two occasions, he shot off his own propellor, which was a fairly common accident at the time. The Commanding Officer at Marske was a Major Champion, known as 'Gimlet', a name Johns was to use for the hero of a series of books. Johns served as a flying instructor until August 1918 when he transferred to the Western Front. He spent six weeks as a bomber pilot with No. 55 Squadron RAF. On 16th September 1918, he was piloting one of a group of six DH4s on a mission to bomb Mannheim. Johns' aircraft was hit by anti-aircraft fire and was forced to drop out of formation. He jettisoned his single 250 pound bomb and turned for home, but was attacked by a large group of Fokker DVII fighters. During this action, Johns' observer and rear-gunner, 2/Lt Alfred Edward Amey, was badly wounded and the aircraft shot down. Johns received a leg wound during the battle and was slightly injured in the crash; Amey died of his injuries later that day. Johns remained a P.O.W. until the end of the war.

After the war, W. E. Johns remained in the Royal Air Force, and was promoted to the rank of Flying Officer in November 1920. He worked in central London as a recruiting officer and, notably, rejected T. E. Lawrence's application to join the RAF for giving a false name, but was later ordered to accept him.


In good condition. The boards are in good condition, with some marks and general signs of wear. The illustration of a Gypsy Moth on the front board is in good condition. The binding and hinges are good and secure, the hinges having been carefully reinforced with archival paper tape. The text is in very good condition, with some marks to the endpapers. The illustrations are in very good condition.

Published: 1932
With numerous illustrations and 16 b/w photographs
Green illustrated boards
Dimensions: 195mm x 240mm
Pages: 100