Geoffrey de Havilland
Airco was established in 1912 by George Holt Thomas at The Hyde in Hendon, north London, England. Two years later, learning that Geoffrey de Havilland, who was then at the Royal Aircraft Factory in Farnborough, might be available, Holt Thomas invited de Havilland to join Airco as chief designer. De Havilland's Airco designs were to provide around 30% of all trainers, fighters and bombers used by Britain and the United States during the First World War.
De Havilland's designs for Airco were marked with his initials "DH". Their pusher configuration fighter DH.2 of 1916 helped to end the "Fokker scourge" of 1915. Later notable aircraft designed and built by Airco during the war included the DH.6 trainer, of which more than 2,280 examples were built, and the DH.4 and DH.9 light bombers. These types, and the DH.9A, a developed version that served for many years with the postwar Royal Air Force, formed the basis of early de Havilland designed airliners, including the company's DH.16 and DH.18 types which were operated by Aircraft Transport and Travel Limited, the first airline established in the United Kingdom, also owned by George Holt Thomas.