Recruitment and Obligations of Civilian Pilots

Even without such a formal establishment of the Corps, up until the outbreak of war, civilian pilots were recruited to qualify as military pilots, through the Trusteeship of the Air Fund. They were obliged by contract by the Inspection of Air and Automobile Units, directly afterwards, to be available as a pilot and observer in the case of war breaking out. They also had to name a mechanic liable for military service, who should arrive with him for duty. If the person owned an aircraft, this should also be readily operational. Basically it was the same kind of recruitment as for the German Voluntary Automobile Corps.

Since 1813 in the Prussian Army – and after 1871 in the rest of the country – it was possible to fulfil a one-year voluntary military service, when one was especially either scientifically or technically qualified. On completion of this period of service, the man became a non-commissioned officer. By fulfilling certain manoeuvres, the rank of Reserve Lieutenant could be achieved.

The Trusteeship of the Air Fund managed to interpret the § 89,6 of the Military statute-book for the recruitment of armed forces, that the legitimacy to one-year voluntary service, except by sitting a compulsory exam, could be gained by outstanding performance in the area of flight administration. In addition to the suitability of being a pilot, only the completion of a specific course would be required. These trainings were carried out parallel to regular pilot-instruction of military personnel within military departments and at aircraft manufacturing depots, where a secure sales factor appeared promising.

In this way it was not only possible to give further training to nearly two hundred aviators from the Air Fund in 1913 and 1914, in order that they became accomplished airmen and observers – they would, as one-year volunteers in fact be taken on in military service.

Looked at more closely, this was an extremely effective way of putting civilians who desired military `value´ and recognition under obligation to serve their country. Reporting voluntarily was rewarded with the coveted status `Reserve Officer´. What this really meant during the First World War, particularly for the airmen on the Front, may not always have been perfectly clear for those technical enthusiasts at that time.

Swearing in of voluntary military aviators
Swearing in of voluntary military aviators. vd

 

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