The origins of the Ethiopian Air Force has been traced to Haile Selassie witnessing a show of the British Royal Air Force in November 1922 in Aden. Having never seen an airplane before, he was captivated by this demonstration of their power and abilities, and spontaneously asked if he could go up in one of the biplanes, proclaiming that it was "very fitting that he, as regent of Abyssinia should be the first Abyssinian to take flight in an aeroplane."
As a result of this experience, he afterwards advocated the development of the Imperial Ethiopian Air Force. This small air arm began with the delivery of a Potez 25-A2 to the capital Addis Ababa on 18 August 1929. The Ethiopian Air Force was organized by Mishka Babitchef, the first Ethiopian pilot, who was of Russian descent. A Junkers W 33c followed on 5 September.
On 31 March 1930, three of the biplanes from Ethiopia's air arm played a dramatic role in a battle between Haile Selassie (not yet crowned Emperor) and conservative forces seeking his ouster. During the Battle of Anchem, biplanes were effectively used to give Haile Selassie's forces the upper hand.
A few transport aircraft were also acquired during 1934-35 for ambulance work. The air force was commanded by a French pilot, Andre Maillet, who delivered the first Potez. He was succeeded by another Frenchman, Paul Corriger, who remained until the Italian conquest of Ethiopia, when the small air arm ceased to exist.