“At ease, Banneret… I’ve read the reports regarding Flight Leader Jones and her superior, Reeve Patterson, and am most impressed with their performance in the recent air battle. In fact, the Reeve’s exemplary performance inspired a letter from Second-Ardian Thompson of your regional HQ, recommending Patterson’s promotion to Banneret. You have much to be proud of.”
“Thank you, Ardian, sir. No one deserves promotion more than Reeve Patterson.”
Conference between alien officers in next year’s Star Wars sequel? No, this is how discussion might go in Britain’s Royal Air Force, had the list of ranks proposed at its inception been adopted.
Until late in World War I, British air operations were conducted by the Royal Flying Corps, a branch of the Royal Army, and the Royal Naval Air Service, affiliated with the Royal Navy. But the growing strategic importance of air power during WWI, along with inter-service rivalries and questions about effective chain-of-command, led in 1918 to organization of the Royal Air Force as an independent military service, equal in stature to the Royal Army and Royal Navy.
With creation of the world’s first independent air force, and no tradition of ancient air armadas to draw upon, there was interest in creating a distinct set of new titles unique to the Royal Air Force, and the ranks above — Ardian, Reeve, Banneret, Second-Ardian, and Flight Leader — were among those advanced for consideration.
Not that things would have turned out any differently, militarily, but it is certainly fun to ponder how different the hierarchy of the world’s air forces might sound today, had those early proposed titles been accepted.
“Mr. Prime Minister? Ardian Smith has arrived, bringing with him Banneret Wycliff, Reeve Patterson, and Flight Leader Jones to receive their decorations.”
“Show them in.” ©2009 Gregory N. Brown