Royal Aircraft Factory Aircraft built by The Royal Aircraft Establishment (RAE) was a British research establishment, known by several different names (Royal Aircraft Factury 1915) during its history, that eventually came under the aegis of the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD), before finally losing its identity in mergers with other institutions. The first site was at Farnborough Airfield ("RAE Farnborough") in Hampshire to which was added a second site RAE Bedford (Bedfordshire) in 1946. In 1988 it was renamed the Royal Aerospace Establishment before merging with other research entities to become part of the new Defence Research Agency in 1991.
In 1904–1906 the Army Balloon Factory, which was part of the Army School of Ballooning, under the command of Colonel James Templer, relocated from Aldershot to the edge of Farnborough Common in order to have enough space to inflate the new "dirigible balloon" or airship which was then under construction. Templer's place was taken by Colonel John Capper and Templer himself retired in 1908. Besides balloons and airships, the factory also experimented with Samuel Franklin Cody's war kites and aeroplanes designed both by Cody and J. W. Dunne.

In October 1908 Cody made the first aeroplane flight in Britain at Farnborough. In 1909 Army work on aeroplanes ceased and the Factory was brought under civilian control. Capper was replaced as Superintendent by Mervyn O'Gorman.

In 1912 the Balloon Factory was renamed the Royal Aircraft Factory (RAF). Its first new designer was Geoffrey de Havilland who later founded his own company. later colleagues included John Kenworthy who became chief engineer and designer at the Austin Motor Company in 1918 and who went on to found the Redwing Aircraft Co in 1930 (Flight International) and Henry Folland – later chief designer at Gloster Aircraft Company, and founder of his own company Folland Aircraft. One of the designers in the engine department was Samuel Heron, who later went on to invent the sodium-filled poppet valve, instrumental in achieving greater power levels from piston engines.

While at the RAF, Heron designed a radial engine that he was not able to build during his time there, however upon leaving the RAF he then went to Siddeley-Deasy where the design, the RAF.8, was developed as the Jaguar.  Heron later moved to the United States where he worked on the design of the Wright Whirlwind. Other engineers included Major F.M. Green, G.S. Wilkinson, James E. "Jimmy" Ellor, Prof. A.H. Gibson, and A.A. Griffith. Both Ellor and Griffith would later go on to work for Rolls-Royce Limited.

In 1918 the Royal Aircraft Factory was once more renamed, becoming the Royal Aircraft Establishment (RAE) to avoid confusion with the Royal Air Force, which was formed on 1 April 1918, and because it had relinquished its manufacturing role to concentrate on research.

During WWII the Marine Aircraft Experimental Establishment, then based at Helensburgh in Scotland, was under the control of the RAE. In 1946 work began to convert RAF Thurleigh into RAE Bedford.

Engineers at the Royal Aircraft Establishment invented high strength carbon fibre in 1963.  In 1961, the world's first grooved runway for reduced aquaplaning was constructed.  In 1965, a US delegation visited to view the new surfacing practice and initiated a study by the FAA and NASA. 

On 1 May 1988 the RAE was renamed the Royal Aerospace Establishment.  On 1 April 1991 the RAE was merged into the Defence Research Agency (DRA), the MOD's new research organisation. Then, on 1 April 1995 the DRA and other MOD organisations merged to form the Defence Evaluation and Research Agency (DERA). The Bedford site was largely shut down in 1994. In 2001 DERA was part-privatised by the MOD, resulting in two separate organisations, the state-owned Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTL), and the privatised company QinetiQ.  -- WIKIPEDIA

The Royal Aircraft Factory B.E.2 was a British single-engine tractor two-seat biplane designed and developed by the Royal Aircraft Factory. Most production aircraft were constructed under contract by various private companies, both established aircraft manufacturers and firms that had not previously built aircraft. Around 3,500 were manufactured in all. Early versions of the B.E.2 entered squadron service with the Royal Flying Corps in 1912; the type continued to serve throughout the First World War. It was initially used as a front-line reconnaissance aircraft and light bomber; modified as a single-seater it proved effective as a night fighter, destroying several German airships. By late 1915, the B.E.2 was proving inadequate in defending itself against German fighters such as the then new Fokker Eindecker, leading to increased losses during the period known as the Fokker Scourge. Although by now obsolete, it had to remain in front-line service while suitable replacements were designed, tested and brought into service. Following its belated withdrawal from operations, the type served in various second line capacities, seeing use as a trainer and communications aircraft, as well performing anti-submarine coastal patrol duties. The B.E.2 has always been a subject of controversy, both at the time and in later historical assessment. From the B.E.2c variant on it had been carefully adapted to be "inherently stable", this feature was considered helpful in its artillery observation and aerial photography duties: most of which were assigned to the pilot, who was able to fly without constant attention to his flight controls. In spite of a tendency to swing on take off and a reputation for spinning, the type had a relatively low accident rate. The stability of the type was however achieved at the expense of heavy controls, making rapid manoeuvring difficult. The observer, often not carried because of the B.E.'s poor payload, occupied the front seat, where he had a limited field of fire for his gun.