Barnard on Learning to Fly is a work which illustrates the way in which many former First World War pilots developed their newly-acquired aviation skills in the years following the war. These included a range of activities from relatively sedate pursuits such as crop dusting and aerial photography, to the more eccentric aerial entertainer’s ’flying circuses’ and barnstorming phenomena of the 1920s and 30s. The range of activities is illustrative of the numbers of former pilots making a living through flying-related means after the war.
While serving with the Honourable Artillery Company Charles Douglas Barnard transferred to the Royal Flying Corps in which he served with Number 2 and 3 Squadrons. By 1918 he had been promoted to the rank of Temporary Captain. During his service in the RAF after the war he was a flying instructor. This acted as a spring board to a series of aeronautical achievements he accomplished in the interwar years. Barnard successfully completed the first flight between London and Malta in 1923. Throughout the 1920s he competed in the King's Cup Race air race. Nevertheless it was in 1928 that Barnard achieved a record-breaking flight of 5,000 miles in four and half days from Karachi in Pakistan to Croydon near London. In the following years he achieved a record-breaking return flight of 10,000 miles in eight days and was also the Duchess of Bedford’s personal pilot and instructor.