On 21 September 1916, Flight Sub-Lieutenant Walter George Raymond Hinchliffe received Royal Aero Club Aviator's Certificate 3595 on an Avro biplane at Royal Naval Air Station, Redcar. Suffering facial injuries in a crash on the night of 3 June 1918, Hinchliffe wore a patch over his left eye for the remainder of his life. Above the Trenches states that "while returning from picking up a forced down Camel, he burst a tyre whilst landing in the dark." Hinchliffe's own account of the crash claimed he was wounded in action: "Night patrol alone to intercept Gothas. Very dark — no moon, slight ground mist; attacked one machine which had been picked up in the searchlights over Hazebrouck. During the encounter I was shot through the forehead. As a result I crashed on top of a forest fracturing head and face."
In March 1928, Hinchliffe vanished on a transatlantic flight from Cramwell, England to Newfoundland in the Endeavour, a 32-foot Stinton Detroiter monoplane. His passenger was the actress and British heiress, the Honourable Elsie McKay, who secretly offered Hinchliffe ten thousand pounds to become the first woman to cross the Atlantic by aeroplane.