The aviation service of Thailand began during the reign of King Rama VI when foreigners organized the first air show in Bangkok on 2 February 1911. Thai military commanders during that time came up with the vision of Thailand having aircraft in possession for national defence in the future. As a result, the Ministry of Defence founded the Aviation Section in the Royal Thai Army and selected three qualified army officers, Major Luang Sakdi Sanlayawut, Captain Luang Arwut Sikikorn, and Lieutenant Thip Ketuthat, to attend the flying training course in France. These three officers were later promoted to the ranks and titles of Air Marshal Phraya Chalermakas, Group Captain Phraya Vehasayan Silapasit, and Group Captain Phraya Thayanpikart, and they were praised as “the Founding Fathers of the Royal Thai Air Force.”
Air Marshal Group Captain Group Captain
Phraya Chalermakas Vehasayan Silapasit Phraya Thayanpikart
While the three officers were attending the training course in France, the Thai Government procured eight aircraft, which were four Breguet aircraft and four Nieuport aircraft, with supplementary donations from the public. It can be said that the air power of Thailand began with only three pilots and eight aircraft. The early aviation of Thailand had used Srapathum Racecourse or the present Royal Bangkok Sport Club as an airfield. However, due to inconveniences, the three Founding Fathers considered relocating the airfield to a new proper area for flying. Therefore, Tambon Don Muang was chosen as the new airport location where permanent buildings and hangars were constructed. After transferring all personnel, equipment, and aircraft to the new airfield, the Ministry of Defence promoted the Aviation Section to the Army Air Corps on 27 March 1914. At present, the Royal Thai Air Force has declared that 27 March is the Royal Thai Air Force Commemoration Day.
The air power of Thailand has gradually developed and increased its importance. Following the country’s participation in the World War I in Europe with the Allies, the national dignity and reputation have been accepted and praised. The Army Air Corps was consequently promoted to the Army Aircraft Regiment. Since then, the air power of Thailand has consistently progressed and become an important factor in various national developments including air mail service and medical transport, etc.
In 1921, the Ministry of Defence considered that the air power was not only for military strategy, but also useful in other areas. As a result, the Army Aircraft Regiment was renamed the Aircraft Regiment and later, the Air Force Regiment under the command of the Minister of Defence. Moreover, the ranks were imposed, and the uniforms’ color was changed from green to blue-grey as in the present. On 9 April 1937, the Air Force Regiment was promoted to the Royal Thai Air Force, with Group Captain Phra Vejayantarungsarit as the first Commander-in-Chief. Therefore, 9 April has been declared the Royal Thai Air Force Day.
The air power of Thailand has significantly advanced and been a crucial part in protecting the national sovereignty in many battles, such as the French Indochina Wars and the Greater East Asia War as well as joining the United Nations Forces in the Korean War and with the Allies in the Vietnam War. From only eight propeller aircraft in the beginning to the advanced jet aircraft in the present, the Royal Thai Air Force is determined to accomplish the mission to protect the national independence and sovereignty.
• 27 March 1914
Promoting the Aviation Section to the Army Air Corps: the Royal Thai Air Force Commemoration Day
• 29 March 1918
Promoted to the Army Aircraft Regiment
• 1 December 1921
Renamed to the Aircraft Regiment reporting to the Ministry of Defence
• 12 April 1935
Promoted to the Air Force Regiment
• 9 April 1937
Establishing the Royal Thai Air Force: the Royal Thai Air Force Day (Notification of the Office of the Prime Minister, 26 March 1998)