A new independent film about the exploits of Britain’s first ‘ace’ pilot, Major Lanoe Hawker, will be released on the anniversary of his death on 23 November 2023. The 23-minute film tells the story of a pivotal few days in World War 1, when airmen were transformed into fighter pilots for the first time in history.

Watch the trailer here:

Or, go behind the scenes of the film with an interview with director, Daniel Arbon and President of The Great War Aviation Society, Air Vice-Marshal (Rtd) Peter Dye, OBE here:

The project has been a labour of love for the last three years for film director and actor Daniel Arbon. The film uses a mix of replica aircraft, hand-built miniatures, life-size cockpits and CGI to tell the story of the action on July 25th 1915, when Hawker downed three enemy aircraft in one sortie and won the first Victoria Cross for his achievements. Before this point, aircraft had largely only been used for reconnaissance or bombing missions.

The film has been funded on a budget of £20,000, raised through a combination of grants from The Great War Aviation Society, other sponsors, and crowdfunding. As well as writing and directing the film, Daniel plays the role of Lieutenant-Colonel Charles Burke and has built many of the sets himself, including the cockpits. Much of the flying footage was filmed using a replica Bristol Scout, owned and operated by David Bremner and Theo Willford to recreate the aircraft flown by David’s grandfather, Flt.Sub.Lt F.D.H. Bremner, in World War 1. For the filming, the replica aircraft was adapted with Hawker’s iconic side-mounted Lewis Gun, and the markings changed to match those employed by Hawker.

Daniel Arbon commented, “This project has been my life for the last three years, and I am so thankful to everyone who has supported us, either financially or by spreading the word, and to all the cast and crew who worked so hard. It has been an honour to lead this project and to have the support of the Hawker family and all the history enthusiasts; I really hope everyone enjoys the film.”

President of The Great War Society, Peter Dye commented, “It has been a privilege, as part of our wider educational activities, to provide financial support and historical advice for this exciting and important project. Hawker was an outstanding and inspirational leader who was responsible for several important innovations, including the introduction of formation flying and the development of the side-mounted Lewis Gun, which helped end German air superiority in 1915, known as the Fokker Scourge. Tragically, he was just 25 when he was killed in combat on 23 November 1916 by Manfred von Richthofen, the famous Red Baron who would become Germany’s highest-scoring fighter pilot of World War 1.”

To read more about Lanoe Hawker, read ‘The Anatomy of An Aircraft’ by Barry Gray.

David Bremner said, “The Bristol Scout was the first aircraft manoeuvrable enough to be practical to aim the aircraft, rather than just the gun, and Hawker was the first to fully realise its potential for air warfare. Theo and I have thoroughly enjoyed being a part of this project, and it’s a privilege to celebrate the film’s release.”

The film has been supported by the Hawker family, and Hawker’s great-great-great-nephew, Lanoe Ertl, even appears in the film as a young farm boy who lives near the aerodrome and loves aeroplanes. The Hawker family said, “As some of Lanoe’s living relatives, we are absolutely delighted to see his legacy honoured with this new film. It will help new generations to understand the bravery and sacrifice of all World War 1 aviators at a time when the average life expectancy of a pilot on active service was often measured in months, if not weeks.”

The film will be available at:

… from 23rd November 2023, where it can be streamed for £0.99 or purchased for £1.99.

The link will also be posted on social media at Facebook /TheGreatWarAviationSociety and /Hawkerfilm or Twitter @GWAS1914_1918.