Air Pilots Cobham Lecture

Wednesday 11th April 2018

Royal Air Force Club, Piccadilly

The Annual Cobham Lecture is held in memory of Sir Alan Cobham who developed the 'probe and drogue' method of air to air refuelling in 1949. His legacy is Cobham plc, a defence company listed on the FTSE 250. The lecture was entitled: "Behind the Men (mostly!), Machines and Myths – 100 years of the Royal Air Force" and was presented by Sebastian Cox, Head of the Air Historical Branch (RAF) in the Ministry of Defence, and a Co-Director of the Royal Air Force Centre for Air Power Studies.

In just over an hour, Mr Cox covered the history of the RAF but discussed in some detail the establishment of the service and the threats from the Navy and Army, which were intent on protecting their share of the defence budget. We heard about how the early aircraft were fragile and prone to failure. It's a fascinating story which was told in a very entertaining fashion by Mr Cox, who was not shy about discussing his own controversial views on certain chapters in the history of the RAF.

It was a privilege to spend time in the Royal Air Force Club. The ballroom, where the lecture was held, has a ceiling painted as a blue sky with clouds and a bi-plane in one of the corners. The event was well attended by livery companies and there was an opportunity to meet friends in the bar after the Q&A session.