Norman Spratt, a native of Durban, Natal, was an officer of the Royal Flying Corps during the First World War who was involved in much aircraft testing at the Royal Aircraft Establishment, Farnborough, United Kingdom. He later served as a group captain in the Royal Air Force. He was awarded the Order of the British Empire in 1925.
On 14 May 1914, Norman Spratt set a British altitude record of 18,900 ft. while flying one of two Royal Aircraft Factory R.E.5 reconnaissance designs, the fifth and sixth machines, which were produced as single-seat 'height machines', with long strut-braced extensions on the upper wing, which gave it a span of 57 ft 2.39in.
On 12 August 1914, the sole Royal Aircraft Factory S.E.4, 628, crashlanded at 1145 hrs. while being flown by Lt. Spratt when one of the wheels collapsed, airframe overturning, sustaining such extensive damage that it was abandoned.
The first dogfight is believed to have taken place on 28 August 1914, when Spratt, flying a Sopwith Tabloid, forced down a German Albatros C.I two-seater. This was an amazing achievement as his Sopwith was not armed.
Spratt served as a Group Captain during World War II, but died from ill-health in 1944.
- Cooper, Peter J., "Picking up the Pieces", Air International, Stamford, Lincs., UK, November 1998, Volume 55, Number 5, page 280.
- "Royal Aircraft Factory R.E.5". historyofwar.org. Retrieved 18 January 2014.
- Bruce, J.M., "War Planes of the First World War, Fighters, Volume Two", Doubleday & Company Inc., Garden City, New York, 1968, Library of Congress card number 65-25323, page 72.
- "Dogfights". spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk. Retrieved 18 January 2014.
- Tapper 1973, pp. 52–8