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From Balloons to Drones: A Century of Aerial Reconnaissance

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Over the 100 years since its introduction, aerial reconnaissance has only grown in importance. The First Air War (1914-1918) saw the use of brand new tactics and technology in aerial combat and bombing, but the main task of airplanes at the start of the war – reconnaissance – remained their primary mission until war’s end. From the Second World War’s use of aerial photos to assess battle damage and military effectiveness, right up to the use of unmanned drones today, aerial reconnaissance is perhaps the most enduring and ubiquitous use of air space to survive the Great War.

Dr. John Maker is a historian at the Canadian War Museum. He curated the current special exhibition Deadly Skies – Air War, 1914-1918. His other exhibitions include Enemy Aliens: Internment in Canada, 1914-1920 and Open Wide: A Century of Canadian Military Dentistry. He has also published books and articles on Canadian Military History and is currently supporting upcoming exhibitions on the Battle of Vimy Ridge and Canada’s 100 Days campaign.

Trevor Ford has published multiple articles on both domestic intelligence in Canada and the use of air photos in building geographic information systems. He is currently in his fourth year as a PhD Candidate at Wilfrid Laurier University and is the managing archivist at the Laurier Centre for Military Strategic & Disarmament Studies. He is currently leading several digital initiatives to create new media on Canada during the First World War.

Gilbert L. McCauley, Lieutenant-Colonel (Retired), MSM, CD, is a helicopter pilot with 43 years of service in the Canadian Armed Forces and the Royal Canadian Air Force. He was deployed twice to Afghanistan (2004, 2008) to test, develop and lead the employment of the SPERWER Tactical Uninhabited Air Vehicle (TUAV). He also contributed to the planning of the TUAV Kandahar deployments and the transition to its successor system, the HERON.

In English with simultaneous French translation.

Presented in conjunction with the World at War – International Speaker Series, an annual series of academic events, presented by the Canadian War Museum, to mark the centenary of the First World War. The events, presented in a variety of formats, provide an opportunity for the public to learn from leading Canadian and international experts about the war’s national and global reach, its cost and its legacies.

Presented by Raytheon Canada Limited.

Official Partners of the Centenary of the First World War: John and Pattie Cleghorn and Family; H.Col (Ret’d) John C. Eaton, O.Ont., K.St.J., D.Com. and H.Col Sally Horsfall Eaton, S.S.St.J., C.D., R.N., LL.D.; The Friends of the Canadian War Museum; TD Bank Group; VISITFLANDERS and the R. Howard Webster Foundation.

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