Imperial Airways pilot, Gordon P Olley, c 1929.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Signed company postcard, showing Olley (1893-1954) beside a Handley Page W86 aircraft built in 1924. Imperial Airways Limited was formed by the British government on 31 March 1924, after a government report recommended that Britain's interests in commercial air transport would be best served by merging the larger existing aircraft companies. The government's primary motivation for the merger was the need to carry mail throughout the empire. Olley served as a pilot with the Royal Flying Corps in the First World War, shooting down 10 enemy aircraft and being awarded the Military Medal. After the war he became a commercial airline pilot, working first for Handley Page Transport and then Imperial Airways. In 1934 he established his own company, Olley Air Services.