The story of early British military aviation is one of trial and error, of triumph and adversity and it all began with a detachment of the Royal Engineers called the Air Battalion, which had previously been called the Balloon School. Created some forty years before the RAF, the Balloon School commenced a long history of British aeronautics. Initially, spotting for artillery, the Balloon School grew to encompass kites and gliders and early aircraft also. This new history of this little-known army detachment presents the tale of these daring aviators and the balloons, airship, kites and pioneer aircraft during a time of much change in military design and thinking. It shows the development of military aviation in its formative years, and the use of these new weapons in time of war. Malcolm Hall brings together a thoroughly researched history of military aviation in the pioneer years with a selection of images, some previously unpublished, showing the development of the flying machines, both lighter and heavier than air.