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Churchilliana Churchill Collectables: Pilot Poster


This extremely rare poster is wartime economy size and was produced in 1942–43. It follows a standard theme of posters of that era by warning that idle chatter could directly affect the war effort. What makes the poster so unique is that Churchill is the referenced pilot and shown at the controls of the plane (whilst smoking a cigar). Churchill was a trained pilot and would often take the controls of the aircraft transporting him to and from conferences or other important meetings.

Research proves that the photo used in this poster was taken 16 January 1942. Churchill had just completed a visit to the White House. The original plan was for him to travel from Washington to Bermuda in a Boeing 314 flying boat, where the prime minister’s party would rendezvous with the battleship Duke of York and a destroyer escort to take them back across the Atlantic to Britain.

Churchill and his party departed Washington as planned on 16 January. En route to Bermuda, the prime minister briefly took over the controls of the plane. He enjoyed this so much that he decided to change the plans originally set for his return home. Instead of traveling by sea on the Duke of York, Churchill would now make a transatlantic flight from Bermuda to Britain in the flying boat. He limited his passengers, however, to First Sea Lord Sir Dudley Pound and Chief of Air Staff Sir Charles Portal. The rest of the party travelled home on the Duke of York as planned.

Churchill’s return home took a day and was not without complications. During the flight, the plane was blown off course and came near enough to German held territory that Luftwaffe fighter planes were scrambled. Thankfully, though, the “real” pilot was able to evade any attacks and return Churchill and his party home without incident.

Brian Krapf formerly served as President of the American Political Items Collectors.

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