A Fleeting Peace

Golden-Age Aviation in the British Empire

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photo: 1922

The Hon. Elsie Mackay

(a.k.a. Poppy Wyndham)

b. Simla, India, in 1893, the third daughter (of four, plus one son) of Lord and Lady Inchcape; the "friendly, sociable and unpretentious" Miss Elsie from Glenapp Castle in south-west Scotland.

One of the richest women in Britain, and therefore a member of the Court and Social whirl: e.g. aged 19 or so, she was at Mrs Tennyson d'Eyencourt's dance in 1912: "The drawing room in which the dancing took place was decorated with tulips in different shades of yellow" and all that.

Became a nurse in her mother's hospital for wounded soldiers (this is all sounding a bit Downton Abbey, sorry) and in 1917 nursed a certain wounded South African soldier Mr Dennis Wyndham, in civilian life An Actor. She told her father she wanted to marry him; Daddy strongly opposed the marriage; they ran away to Glasgow (Glasgow??), took apartments and got her landlady and someone else to act as witnesses; went to the registrar... hang on, this is Downton Abbey!

Unfortunately for them, they hadn't been resident in Scotland for the required 15 days, and the marriage was declared null and void. The judge was very put out... "This sort of thing will not do. People must realise this is a solemn act dealing with the question of marriage and the future of a man and woman... I am going to report the whole of this matter to the Lord Advocate".

Elsie reverted to her maiden name, went back to the family home and to the endless balls, dinner-parties, at-homes, receptions, hospital ward-openings, society weddings and cruises. "Miss Mackay wore a Victorian picture dress of pink and gold brocade over an underskirt of silver lace"... She became quite a well-known interior designer for P&O. Lord Inchcape was chairman of P&O but that was just a coincidence, probably.

Meanwhile ... in April 1920 a certain Miss Poppy Wyndham appeared in a horsey silent picture movie called 'A Dead Certainty' ... June 1920, Poppy Wyndham (again on a horse) in "A Great Coup" ... August 1921, Poppy Wyndham in "A Tidal Wave". As 'Poppy', Elsie appeared in at least 8 movies between 1919 and 1921.

 In June 1924, Elsie sold programmes at a charity matinee at the Aldwych Theatre; the following month, presided at the Catholic Stage Guild, and in June 1926, she sold "sweets and programmes under Lady Alexander's direction" at another charity matinee.

On the 9th March 1928, she denied rumours that she was going to accompany one-eyed Imperial Airways pilot Captain Walter George Raymond Hinchliffe on a transatlantic flight; she knew him, of course, but only had "a very small financial interest in [his flight]".

Sure enough, on March 14th, the black and gold Stinson-Detroiter aeroplane 'The Endeavour', containing Capt Hinchliffe and Elsie Mackay, took off from Cranwell. It was spotted 170 miles off the west coast of Ireland, heading out over the Atlantic. They were never seen again...


1) a note, found in a bottle at Flint, North Wales, saying "Goodbye all. Elsie Mackay and Captain Hinchcliffe. Down in fog and storm". Pity the handwriting was nothing like Elsie's, and the writer spelt Hinchliffe's name wrong, but anyway...

2) A London spiritualist received a message from the dead Mr Hinchliffe in July: "We landed on the water. We did not crash ... I swam for 20 minutes but the currents were too strong and I became unconscious and drowned. Mackay's end was peaceful". I only report this stuff...

3) Finally, in December an identifiable wheel from the aircraft was found washed up in Ireland (which rather settled it).

Lord and Lady Inchcape generously put Elsie's £521,101 13s 4d in trust for the nation for about 50 years, after which time they hoped it "should be used to reduce the National Debt". They also gave Capt Hinchliffe's widow Emilie (sometimes known as Eileen) £10,000, his estate being a rather more modest £32.

In 1977, when the Elsie Mackay Fund matured, it had grown to over £4.5 million; the National Debt had also grown a bit, however. To £66.8 billion. Or, to put it another way, just another 99.993% to go ...

See also: http://www.elsie-mackay.co.uk/ and 'A Flight Too Far', by Jack Hunter/Stranraer and District Local History Trust, 2008.

There is a memorial window to Elsie in Glenapp Church.

[p.s. this is not the same actress, called Elsie Mackay, who was married to actor Lionel Atwill; she was American]

Elsie owned a 1916 Airco DH.6 (C5220, G-EAGF)

photo: 1917, when a Captain in the RFC, aged 25

Capt Norman Macmillan MC AFC

'author and outstanding pilot', the chief test pilot of Fairey Aviation from 1924.

Later flew the Fairey Long-range monoplane on its world flight.

Originally from Glasgow.

WWI ace with 11 victories; later Wing Commander, and the first person to land at Heathrow (before it was an airport).

Winner of the speed prize (at 76.1 mph!) in the Lympne Motor Glider competition of October 1923, in the Parnall Pixie.

d. 1976


King's Cup in 1924

Walter Dugald MacPherson

b. 30 Jun 1901 in London

a solicitor

d. 1991

Aerial Tour in 1930

photo: 1916, when a Lieut, 15th Hussars, aged 27

Mr Edye Rolleston Manning

born Sydney, NSW; wounded during the Battle of the Somme. Later Air Commodore; died 1957


King's Cup in 1929

photo: 1912, aged 19

Mr Marcus Dyce Manton

b. 14 Sep 1893 in Sheffield, an 'Engineer's Improver' in 1912, later an instructor at Hendon for Grahame-White - he applied for the RFC but was rejected on medical grounds.

After WWI he was a test pilot for Samuel White and English Electric; he also became interested in gliding and became a member of the London Gliding Club and a founder-member of the British Gliding Association. In WWII he was with Armstrong Whitworth as Service Liaison Officer.

And he was remembered for wearing "startling socks".

d. May 1968 in Bridport, Dorset

Aerial Derby in 1919

Beryl C. Markham

b. Beryl Clutterbuck 26 October 1902 in Rutland but moved to 'British East Africa' (Kenya) when she was 4.

Married three times; the first of these was to Mansfield Markham in 1927.

Began flying in 1931, but it wasn't until 1936 that she made headlines by being the first person to fly solo from England to North America. Her autobiography, West with the Night, sold over a million copies.

d. 3 August 1986, aged 83

photo: 1928, aged 25

Mr Arthur Gregory George Marshall

Sir Arthur, the engineer who founded Marshalls of Cambridge; 'Chariots of Fire' Olympic athlete; died 2007 (sad, but then he was 103)


King's Cup in 1930

joan marshall

Joan Esther Marshall

Joan Marshall Signature

b. 20 Aug 1913, Port Elizabeth, S.A.

Joan was educated 'privately' in South Africa, and moved from there to Northumberland in 1926, aged 13, with her family - father Walter (a farmer), mother Eda, 2 elder sisters Brenda and Eda, and brother John.

She then went to the College of Domestic Science, Atholl Crescent, Edinburgh, and from there she became Catering Manager for Airwork at Heston, working for Susan Slade (q.v.); she earned her RAeC Certificate in 1937, in Gloucester.

She originally applied to the Air Transport Auxiliary (ATA) in December 1940 (Susan had started with the ATA the month before), citing as her next of kin her sister Brenda Anderson, of Dyce, Aberdeenshire. By then she had 60 hours flying experience, of which half were solo, on "Moth I, II, Avro Cadet, Cirrus Moth, Leopard Moth, and Whitney Straight".

Things then moved quite quickly (Susan must have put in a good word), and the following February (1941) she went for a test; Margaret Cunnison reported that she was "worth training and has the makings of a good pilot. Needs about 5 to 8 hours dual".

As was often the case, she was then told to stand by, as there was no vacancy.

ATA Joan Marshall

And then a vacancy came up in July; they wrote to her and said "Can you report September 1st"; she wrote back and said "Sorry, no - Airwork need me until October. I am very disappointed indeed."

"Never mind", they said, "we can wait", and she duly started on the 15th October 1941. She was billeted in North Mimms (you may know it, lovely place) at 2 guineas a week.

She trained on the Miles Magister: "Her general flying is fair and shows average ability, but as her navigation was not yet up to OC standard, I have recommended further training. She misjudged a forced landing, but appears to understand the necessary procedure... average ability, keen, sensible; enthusaism apt to outweigh caution in selecting weather".

She was appointed Cadet on the 15th Feb 1942, then Third Officer 6 days later. She was off sick for a few weeks in March, with a chest infection then tonsillitis.

ATA Joan Marshall2

Sadly, she was then killed on the 20 Jun 1942, in Master I N7806 which spun into the ground when approaching to land at White Waltham. The official report said it was due to "a spin caused by stalling on a turn during a landing approach, for which it has been impossible to find a reason."

She was buried in Maidenhead Cemetery; her pall bearers were Pauline Gower, and her fellow Third Officers Winnie Pierce,  Louise Schuurmann, Katie Williams, Mary Wilkins, Irene Arckless, and Benedetta Willis.

Pauline wrote that "her general character and behaviour were excellent in every respect", and her sister Brenda added that "we know that she was very happy in her work at White Waltham and that, if it had to happen, she would most certainly have wished to die as she did, flying."

One of the ATA Women

Mr Bernard William John Hankins Martin

b. 1891 at Beckenham. RAeC Certificate 1313 (1915)

King's Cup in 1927, 1928

photo: 1930, aged 24

Mr James Knox Mathew

an Army Officer. Address c/o the Guards Club, London


King's Cup in 1936

george matthews

Capt George Campbell Matthews

b. South Australia in 1883

Joined the 9th Australian Light Horse in 1914, took part in the disastrous Gallipoli Campaign, then joined the Australian Flying Corps.

From 1923, joined QANTAS as a pilot (mainly on the Charleville to Cloncurry route) and then, in 1930, set up Matthews Aviation Pty. They originally had an Airco DH.4 (VF-UBZ), then a series of DH Moths (several of which they crashed), and finally a Saunders-Roe A.17 Cutty Sark VH-UNV and a Saunders-Roe A.21 Windhover VH-UPB, which they used on a regular service from Melbourne to Tasmania.

Here is his Cutty Sark coming ashore at Hobart in December 1930:

matthews cutty sark 1931

However, the Windover drifted onto the rocks of King Island, Tasmania on the 13 May 1936.

Became a Wing Commander in the RAAF in WWII.

d. 27 Jan 1958

England-Australia Race in 1919

Capt F R Matthews

King's Cup in 1928

photo: 1929, aged 38

Capt Ian Simon Joseph Constable Maxwell

a 'Merchant'. Address c/o the Naval and Military Club, London


King's Cup in 1930

Mr Patrick H Maxwell

"Joined the RAF in 1930. Learned to fly at Sealand. Flew Bulldogs with No 17 (Fighter) Squadron at Upavon and finished with two years as test pilot at Martlesham. Instructor at the Phillips and Powis Civil Training School."


King's Cup in 1936

Mr Howard Clive Mayers DSO, DFC and bar

b. 9th January 1910 in Sydney.

Read engineering at Jesus College, Cambridge, but left when his father died, and formed Air Log Ltd in May 1932, making instruments for aircraft and ships. Commissioned into the RAF in WWII, initially as a test pilot and then with 601 (County of London) Squadron AAF at Tangmere during the Battle of Britain. Later posted to Egypt. At least 10 victories.

Killed in WWII: 20th July, 1942 when a Wing Commander 250 Sqn RAFVR; commemorated on the Alamein Memorial. Mayers radioed that he was having engine trouble and was making a forced landing in the Qattara Depression. His aircraft was found and, there being no trace of him, it was presumed that he had been captured. Mayers was not heard of again and may have been lost in a Ju52, which was shot down whilst ferrying PoW’s to Germany.

King's Cup in 1932

photo: 1935, aged 24

Mr James Henry Gordon McArthur

37925 Flight Lieutenant James Henry Gordon ‘Butch’ MacArthur DFC

Born in Tynemouth on 12th February 1913, MacArthur became a civil pilot in the 1930’s, at one time holding the London to Baghdad speed record. He took an RAF Short Service Commission in 1936, being Commissioned as an Acting Pilot Officer on the 6th, and on 18th July was posted to No.9 Flying Training School at Thornaby where he became a full Pilot Officer on 11th October. He then joined the Station Flight at Aldergrove on 14th January 1937 and was promoted Flying Officer on 11th May. On 1st October 1938 he was posted to the Experimental Section, Royal Aircraft Establishment at Farnborough as a test pilot.

MacArthur was posted to 238 Squadron at Middle Wallop as a Flight Commander in June 1940, having become a Flight Lieutenant on 11th May, before joining 609 at Middle Wallop as B Flight Commander on 1st August 1940 under S/Ldr Darley. On 8th August whilst flying Spitfire R6977 he destroyed two Ju.87’s off the Isle of Wight at 12:30hrs, and destroyed a Bf.110 on the 11th, again in R6977, 15 miles south south east of Swanage at 10:15hrs. Flying R6977 again he claimed a Bf.110 probably destroyed on the 12th and Claimed a Bf.109 damaged on the 13th August flying R6977. On 15th August he destroyed two Bf.110's in R6769, one northwest of Southampton and the other 15 miles south south west of this. He claimed another Bf.110 Destroyed on the 25th in X4165 at 17:20hrs in the Warmwell / Poole area and on 7th September he destroyed a Do.17Z in L1008, damaging a Do.215 just over a week later on the 15th in R6979 during an action in which he suffered an oxygen failure at 25,000ft. Attacked by Bf.109’s he lost consciousness and came to just in time to pull out of a high-speed dive at a low altitude. The damage to his ears was to require future hospital treatment, but on the 16th he flew Spitfire R6922 to Hamble for repair. The Air Speed Indicator began to malfunction so he decided to follow another aircraft down onto the runway, much to the chagrin of the pilot of the other aircraft who then went around for another circuit. McArthur followed him for a few more circuits until he finally landed, forgetting to lower his undercarriage in the process and writing off the aircraft. ‘I didn’t like the thing anyway’ he is recorded as saying.

Following medical tests Butch handed over command of B Flight to Flight Lieutenant Dundas, after which he was not allowed to fly above 5,000 feet and in consequence was not able to return to operations, although on 25th September flying X4165 he had destroyed another Bf.110 (reported as a Jaguar) over Bournemouth. MacArthur was awarded the DFC on 22nd October 1940, announced on the 9th in Squadron Routine Orders, and was portrayed by Captain Cuthbert Orde in November.

Subsequently employed on what he called ‘stooge jobs’, he was promoted to the rank of Squadron Leader on 1st September 1941, being promoted to Wing Commander on 1st January 1944.

Released from the RAF in 1947 he joined the Royal Canadian Air Force in Edmonton, Alberta in 1948 and was posted to the Winter Experimental Establishment, testing RAF and Royal Navy aircraft. In 1949 he turned his hand to air racing and was granted leave for the races, acquiring Spitfire MkXIVe TZ138 on 4th August 4th, 1949 in partnership with F/Lt Ken Brown DFC, who had been a Flight Sergeant with 617 Squadron on the Dams raid. Purchasing the Spitfire for $1250, registering it as CF-GMZ on 25th August.

Sponsored by Pat Reid of Imperial Oil, who told Brown 'you have a sure winner on your hands', and granted a Class F racing certificate of serviceability by the Department of Transport, Butch flew from Edmonton via Toronto and raced in the Tinnerman Air Races at Cleveland, Ohio as number 80, finishing in third place in the Thompson Trophy on 4th September 1949 and receiving a substantial prize for his efforts. MacArthur left the airfield the following morning at 06:00hrs with the winnings and without filing a flight plan or informing F/Lt Brown, later selling the aircraft for $1000 to apparently pay for race debts despite the sponsorship.

He was transferred shortly afterwards and served in Canada, the United States and Japan and being awarded the United Nations Korea Medal and the Canadian Forces Decoration.

He was badly injured in an accident involving two cars in 1957, ending up in a hospital in Montreal and leaving the airforce soon afterwards, moving to Mexico. He married and divorced after a few years but remained in Mexico and is reputed to have joined the Mexican Air Force.

Wing Commander ‘Butch’ MacArthur was killed in a flying accident at the Las Vegas Airshow in May 1961 at the age of 48 and was buried with full military honours through the help of the Vancouver Legion. His medals were sold at Sothebys in 1986.

King's Cup in 1936

MacRobertson Race in 1934

Ivor Herbert McClure DSO

Educated at Eton and Harrow and Oxford and Cambridge (why not). Joined the Royal Engineers as a motorcycle despach rider in 1914; Captain in the Intelligence Corps in WWI (DSO in Jan 1918); also a playwright and performer as part of the '5WA Radio Players'. His plays include 'GHQ at Kwang-Loo', 'The Fog in the Bog', 'Disclosure (a thriller, with O Wyndham)', and 'The Man who saw the Future (a comedy)'.

He and Sidney St Barbe, in a D.H. Moth, started a tour of 14 European countries in July 1927, and flew to France, Spain, Italy, Yugoslavia, Austria and Hungary. However, as they tried to take off from Budapest on 6 August, "their machine went wrong" and they crashed, "breaking the wheels of the aeroplane" but escaping unhurt.

He invented, and then became the first Director of, the Aviation branch of the Autombile Association (hence his Moth's registration), a Member of the Aerodromes Advisory Board, and Deputy Chairman (with Nigel Norman) of the Civil Aviation Section of the London Chamber of Commerce.

CG Grey reckoned that he had "an innate love of law, order and decency".

john cowie mackintosh

Lt John Cowie McIntosh


Co-pilot with Ray Parer in the England-Australia Race 1919


Killed shortly afterwards, sadly:

"It is with the utmost regret we have to record the death, through an aeroplane accident in Australia, of Lieut J. McIntosh, who with Lieut. R. J. Parer, made that exceedingly plucky and sporting flight from England to Australia last year. It appears that Lieut. McIntosh, while making a cross-country flight, accompanied by his mechanic and a passenger, experienced engine trouble near Pithara (300 miles from Perth), and crashed after a nose-dive from about 2,000 ft. The mechanic also was killed, and the passenger injured."


Neil Follett kindly contacted me to clarify this, thus: "He was flying an Avro 504, which crashed on  take-off from Pithara where he was conducting joy flights. I think 200 feet would be more appropriate than the 2000 feet mentioned. Pithara is about 200 kms (120 miles) from Perth, as the crow flies."

Miss Hilda Hope McMaugh

b. 11 Mar 1891 in NSW, Australia; a nursing sister with the Australian Army Nursing Service.

photos: 1919, aged 28

See the movie here

3rd woman to get an RAec Certificate (No 7818) on 15 Nov 1919

photo: 1918, when a 2nd Lieut in the RAF, aged 20

Capt William John McDonough

from Birmingham, flying instructor with the Midlands Aero Club.


King's Cup in 1926, 1927




Malcolm Charles ‘Mad Mac’ McGregor, DFC and Bar


Born 4th March, 1896, in Manga-mako, near Hunterville, New Zealand; youngest of 3 children. 6ft 3in tall,' lean, with a prominent jaw and pale blue eyes'.

54 Squadron during WWI, flying Sopwith Pups. Forced landing on June 29th, 1917 when he 'suffered a fractured jaw, loss of his teeth, and severe lacerations to his face and head'. Returned to France in May 1918 with Bishop's 85 Squadron, flying SE5s, ending the War with 15 victories.

Returned to farming, then worked with various start-up airlines in New Zealand, amassing thousands of flights. Crashed in 1923 and fractured his jaw. From 1932, instructor to the Manawatu Aero Club (crashed in December and - would you believe it - broke his jaw again, amongst other things).

After the Race, became Service Manager of Union Airways and toured the US (meeting up with Roscoe Turner) and the UK looking for suitable aeroplanes.

Killed in an accident (striking an anemometer mast) whilst landing a Miles Falcon at Rongotai, Wellington on the 19th February, 1936, aged 39.



Here he is -- as mad as they come...


Sqd. Ldr. Malcolm Charles McGregor, D.F.C. and bar, is a picturesque character frequently mentioned in War Birds. He commanded the Flight (in No. 85 Sqd.) in which both Elliott White Springs and the anonymous diarist served. The "Diary of an Unknown Aviator" is eloquent of exploits shared by " Bish and Mac," the former being Lt. Col. (then Major) W. A. Bishop, V.C. The laconic entry: "Bish and Mac got one each " becomes almost monotonous. But McGregor, who arrived in London (via Auckland, Sydney and Vancouver) on September 21, refuses to discuss these wartime encounters. Rapidly blinking a pair of bright blue eyes above a small brown moustache and pugnacious chin, he pleads lapse of memory : says he cannot even recall the name of the New Zealand town in which he was born ; but he knows the date—March 3, 1896.

Transferred from A.I.F. to R.F.C. early in 1916, and trained at Oxford, Netheravon and Upavon, McGregor served six months in France with No. 54 Sqd. (Sopwith Pups) before joining the redoubtable No. 85 (S.E.5A) on its formation at Hounslow uuder Major Bishop. He remained with the latter until demobbed in 1919. He then returned to New Zealand.

A member of the N.Z.A.F. since its formation in 1921, McGregor has also engaged in various civil activities. He was a partner in the now-delunct joyriding venture, Hamilton Airways. With a DH50 borrowed from the N.Z. Government, lie operated a passenger service between Dunedin and (Christchurch. With a Spartan he made a series of First Official Mail Flights throughout the Dominion. These and many other enterprises ended in 1932 with his appointment as chief instructor to the Manawatu Aero Club. He has flown 3,300 hr.

Major McGregor arrived in 1his country on the s.s. Aorangi on September 19, and was subsequently supplied with his machine at Reading.

Len Trent, born in Nelson, New Zealand, on April 14, 1915, is growing up in New Zealand´s Takaka Valley, where one of his earliest memories come sin 1922, when he gets his first ride in Capt. M.C. "Mad Mac" McGregor´s barnstorming Jenny as it tours New Zealand. McGregor, with moustache, goggles and helmet, is the prototype period air ace. During his first flight, the awed Len Trent, vows that some day he will fly himself.

And the unifying factor in the lives of these young boys…they will all ultimately meet and work together in the sand and dirt of Stalag Luft III in Germany, on the "Great Escape," paying for their courage with their lives.


A Loss to New Zealand

Flight regrets to record that Sqn.- Leader M. C. McGregor, the oldest competitor in the MacRobertson England- Australia race, in which he did so well, has died from injuries received in an air crash at Wellington airport. Frequently mentioned in War Birds (he commanded a flight of No. 85 Squadron), Squadron- Leader McGregor has been closely associated with civil and commercial flying in New Zealand in post-war years.

FEBRUARY 27, 1936




A "Falcon" for New Zealand

SQN. LDR. McGREGOR, who, since flying so well in the England-Australia race, has become a director of Union Airways of New Zealand, has recently placed an order for a Miles "Falcon" (" Gipsy " VI engine). This machine, which te identical with that entered by Viscountess Wakefield in the King's Cup, is* for use by the company. Incidentally, Standard Telephones and Cables are to install their ATR 4 radio sets in the- three D.H. 86s, ordered by this company and in the two D.H. 89s ordered by Cook Strait Airways, its associate. These five machines are to be delivered in October and the Palmerston-Dunedin and the Wellington- Blenheim-Nelson services should be in full swing before the end of the year.

AUGUST 29, 1935.

Malcolm Charles (Mac) McGregor, who was to achieve fame as a First World War air ace and later helped to establish civil aviation in New Zealand, was born on 4 March 1896 at Mangamako, near Hunterville. He was the youngest of three children of sheepfarmer Ewen McGregor and his wife, Matilda Chubbin. Little is known of his early life and education. Refused parental permission to enlist in the army during the First World War, he was allowed to train as a pilot instead. In March 1916 he entered Leo and Vivian Walsh's New Zealand Flying School at Mission Bay, Auckland, qualifying on 9 September.

In October 1916 McGregor sailed for England aboard the Willochra. After three months of advanced training with the Royal Flying Corps, he was posted as a fighter pilot to No 54 Squadron in France. On 29 June 1917, however, his operational flying was interrupted by injuries sustained in an emergency crash landing. After recovering in England, he served as a flying instructor. He found these duties frustrating, however, and in March 1918 he was reprimanded for allegedly performing stunts.

He returned to France in May that year, now with No 85 Squadron of the recently established Royal Air Force. Flying SE5a fighters throughout the final offensives of the war, McGregor was promoted to captain in June, and given command of his own flight. A recommendation for the Distinguished Flying Cross in August 1918 described him as 'a pilot of exceptional, even extraordinary skill' and 'a clever leader, full of resource and dash'. He was awarded the DFC and bar, and was credited with downing 10 enemy aircraft and an observation balloon. McGregor featured prominently in the celebrated American memoir War birds (1926).

The war over, McGregor returned to New Zealand in August 1919 aboard the Bremen. He worked initially on his parents' Waikato property, before purchasing a dairy farm at Taupiri. It proved difficult to sustain in the harsh economic conditions of the early 1920s, however, and he reluctantly disposed of it in 1925. He then managed his father's new farm at Rukuhia, near Hamilton. While there, McGregor married Isabel Dora Postgate, a law clerk, on 29 July 1925 at Frankton Junction; they were to have two sons and two daughters. The farm was sold in 1927 and he worked as a drover for the next two years.

Flying, however, remained McGregor's passion. He was a founding member of the New Zealand Air Force (Territorial) in 1923 and regularly attended its refresher courses over the following years. In September 1930 he was promoted to squadron leader and appointed commanding officer of No 2 (Bomber) Squadron. He was granted a commercial pilot's licence in April 1929, and formed Hamilton Airways with one de Havilland Gipsy Moth, which toured the country the following year; two other Moths were acquired later. Many New Zealanders gained their first experience of flying through a joyride with the company.

During the difficult years of the depression McGregor was involved in several false starts in the commercial sphere. In 1930 alone he was technical director of the short-lived National Airways (NZ), operated the 'Chocolate Plane' (a brown-painted Gipsy Moth) for Cadbury Fry Hudson Limited and, in partnership with F. Maurice Clarke, formed Air Travel. This company briefly operated a regular Christchurch--Dunedin service, but its survival, until mid 1932, was achieved chiefly through a combination of joyriding, carrying aloft well-known parachutists (such as Haakon Qviller and 'Scotty' Fraser) and undertaking experimental airmail flights.

In late 1932 McGregor secured regular employment as chief flying instructor to the Manawatu Aero Club. This was interrupted, however, by lengthy hospitalisation following a flying accident in December that year; he crashed during a competition in which pilots had to burst hydrogen balloons with their propellers. After his recovery he participated in the 1934 London--Melbourne centenary air race. With navigator H. C. Walker, McGregor flew a standard, single-engined Miles Hawk Major, named Manawatu , into a creditable fifth place and in the process broke two light-plane records.

Shortly afterwards McGregor became service manager with the newly formed Union Airways of New Zealand. He travelled to the United States and Britain in 1935 to investigate airline operations and equipment, and recommended that the company order de Havilland DH86 airliners. Union Airways commenced services from its Palmerston North base in January 1936, but McGregor was destined to enjoy little of its subsequent success.

On the afternoon of 19 February that year, while approaching Wellington's Rongotai aerodrome in wretched weather conditions, McGregor's Miles Falcon Major monoplane collided with the anemometer mast and crashed. He died of his injuries at Wellington Hospital two hours later. His sole passenger, C. W. F. (Bill) Hamilton (who later achieved international recognition for developing the jet boat), survived with minor abrasions.

Six feet three inches tall, of lean build, with fair hair and blue eyes, Mac McGregor was perhaps the best-known display pilot of his time; he also possessed an exceptional technical knowledge of aviation. His popularity was demonstrated by the extraordinary response to a national appeal launched immediately after his death, which raised over £5,000 to support his widow and their four young children.

MacRobertson—the Last Chapter

The news of the " better late than never " arrival at Darwin recently of R. Parer and G. Hemsworth in their Fairey " Fox," t i t e r various mechanical and other troubles, closes the last chapter of the Melbourne Race. Parer and Hemsworth are going on to Melbourne, and, it is said, the " Fox " will then be flown to New Guinea, for use by a mining company. A short time ago Philips and Powis (Aircraft), Ltd., of Reading, received a most entertaining account of the adventures of Sqn. Ldr. M. C. McGregor and H. C. ("Johnnie") Walker, who, with their Miles " Hawk Major," gained fifth place in the handicap, with an average speed of 105 m.p.n. Here are some extracts from their letter:—

"At the various aerodromes at which we arrived in daylight, we used to do what we later termed the ' Roscoe Turner stunt.' That was to put the nose down some distance away, and, quietly gathering speed, to end up over the aerodrome with the Pitot showing fifty the second time round. One of the officials at Allahabad said: 'Good heavens! What the h— is this you've got ? We thought the Comet was fast, but—!'

" I t was dark, again at Rangoon, and we found wireless mast? in the air everywhere at 2,000 feet, but no aerodrome After dodging these lights, and tearing around the skv for well over half an hour, both firmly of the opinion that we had done too much flying, we came in low down very cautiously from another direction. Some bright lad fired a very pistol, and we landed to find that we had struck one night in the year when the natives have a ' carnival of lights.' ' ie wireless masts were lanterns tied to balloons, and not Ruguv on a bigger scale !

" The trip to Alor Star was quite peaceful above the clouds, with us both trying to forget that machines with spats we warned not to land there. After re-fuelling, we managed with the help of numerous people to taxi to the end of the be They pointed out the best runway. It wasn't, and we end up in a mudhole at forty miles an hour. A number of the pulled us out, bent the spats straight, and this time, a taking the full 800 yards, we scrambled over a mudbank at the other end."


New Zealand's Air Services

IN the course of the past few months Flight has recorded piecemeal many ol the commercial aviation developments in .New Zealand. However, since service licences have now Ijeen issued it would be as well to detail the position as it appeared at the end of May. A few months ago Cook Strait Airways, Ltd., was registered with a capital of £50,000. A daily service was proposed connecting Nelson, Blenheim and Wellington—-a total distance of approximately 140 rnil«s. Capt, Bolt, the chk'i pilot of the company, is at present on a visit to America and this country, and is making an investigation of the types of machines likely to be suitable for the service. Union Airways of N.Z., Ltd., in which the Union Steamship Company is largely interested, was registered on May 1 with a nominal capital of ;£ 100,000, and is to start an air service between Palmerston North and Dunedin, in the southern portion of the South Island. The: distance from ix>int to point is a little less than 500 miles, and both Blenheim and Christchurch will also be served. Mr. N. S. Falla. the managing director of the U.S.S. Company and chairman of Union Airways, has also visiied England to purchase new machines which are to be entirely of British manufacture. Sqn. Ldr. M. C. McGregor has been appointed service manager •nd has already been to England. -.'

The projected and actual services in New Zealand.

Another company. Great Pacific Airways (N.Z.), Ltd., has 1M«II granted a licence to run a trunk service from Auckland to Dunedin, via New Plymouth, Wanganui, Palmerston North, Wellington. Blenheim, Christchurch and Tim.iru. The wdl at Wellington will be conditional on the provision of an emergency landing ground. Among the provisional directorate is Sir Charles Kingsiord Smith. Licences have also been granted to Air Travel (N.Z.), Ltd., for a West Coast service, and to East Coast Airways, Ltd.. for a ser%'iie linking Gisborne and Napier. The time is rapidly drawing near when New Zealand will need separate control and unified administration for civil aviation development. At present the Transport Co-ordination Board deals with applications for licences for air services, but it appears that this Board has no power to license machines, personnel or aerodromes. It can, in fact, only license air services, yet in spite of this the Board recently refused licences to certain concerns because they proposed using the Rongotai aerodrome at Wellington, although this is actually classed as suitable for all types of aeroplanes under

JULY 18, 1935.



MacRobertson Race in 1934

photo: 1930, aged 24

F/O John Francis Xavier McKenna AFC

b c.1906. From Porton, Wilts.

B.Sc. F.R.Ae.S.

AFC in January 1939 as Sqn Ldr

Killed in WWII: 19th January 1945, when a Group Captain RAF; buried Durrington, Wilts.

King's Cup in 1930, 1931


Marjorie Joan Meakin

b. 7 Jan 1910

6 April 1934, Derby Daily Telegraph: "DERBY PRIDE IN WOMAN'S GLIDING FEAT REPTON ESCAPADE RECALLED Miss Joan Meakin, the 24-years old airwoman, who yesterday completed a record flight in a towed glider from Cologne, Germany, to Heston Aerodrome, lived for several years at Repton.

She was nursed from birth until she was nearly 10 years old by Mrs. C. Williams, of Wolfa-street, Derby, who is well known locally as an enthusiastic hospital worker and flag-day organiser. Mrs. Williams told a "Telegraph" representative that she was with Miss Meakin's family as nurse for more than years, during which time she had complete charge the children.

UNCLE AT MARSTON Miss Meakin, she said, was born at Elford, near Tamworth, but when she was two years old her family removed to Bower Hill, Repton, where they lived for several years before going to London. Miss Meakin is a niece of Mr. J. M. Spurrier, of Marston-on-Dove, said Mrs. Williams. Her mother, Mrs. J. H. Thurston, occasionally stays at Marston and visits Mrs. Williams at Derby.

As a child, Miss Meakin was exceedingly mischievous and daring. When she was about five years old she ran down the hill from her Repton home and climbed to the top of a tall copper beech tree, and then challenged her nurse to find her. "Although she was such a tom-boy. she had a very sweet disposition," said Mrs. Williams. " I am extremely proud to know that she has achieved such fame."

BROTHER KILLED Among the other children Mrs. Williams nursed was the eldest boy, Peter, who, as an R.A.F. cadet, was killed some years ago in a 'plane crash. Peter Meakin attended the preparatory school at Repton. When Miss Meakin insisted upon taking up flying, her step-father, Mr. J. H. Thurston, tried to dissuade her for her mother's sake. When she persisted, however, he promised to buy her a glider if she was the first woman to glide over the Channel.

During her daring glide, Miss Meakin was towed by a German Klemm machine. She experienced good weather except for one patch, where she was thrown from her seat several times by the " bumpy " air.

TO JOIN AIR CIRCUS She intends to join Sir Alan Cobham's air circus in a short time, and to make gliding her career.

Miss Meakin's father is Mr. Henry M. Meakin, of The Soho, Burton. Mr. Meakin is a representative for the firm of Messrs. Strauss, the London barley and hop merchants. Mr. Meakin's father was the owner of large maltings in Burton several years ago, known as Meakin's Maltings, now occupied by Messrs. R. Peach and Co., Ltd., Burton Maltings."


She wrote to Sir Alan Cobham in the early 70s: "It was the excitement, and freedom, and comradeship, and the sheer fun of it all that I adored, living the life of a gypsy, moving off each day to a different town - everyone keen and happy.... Now, forty years later, were it possible, I would join the Display again tomorrow to experience the thrills of seeing Geoffrey Tyson flying upside down so low that the top of his rudder parted the long grass, or Jock Mackay crazy-flying..."

Joan married Ronald Price, and eventually they retired to the Isle of Wight. She died there in November 1977. "A calm and intrepid spirit lay behind the warm personality of a really charming girl who was loved and respected by all who knew her".

Flt-Lt Harry Manners Mellor

b c1903. From Much Hadham, Herts

Killed in WWII: 26 May 1940, when a Wing Commander 22 Sqn RAF; commemorated at Runnymede.

King's Cup in 1932

photo: 1934

Mr Charles James 'Jimmy' Melrose

Born 13th September 1913, in Burnside, Adelaide

'Boy Phoenix', Australian pioneer. A 'big, well-set chap', who learned to fly with the South Australian Aero Club. With only 200 hours flying experience, he broke the Australia to England record in 1934.

[His uncle was Noel Pemberton Billing,

 Noel Pemberton Billing 

founder of Supermarine, well-known politician, inventor and, er, fruitcake, who leant to fly in one day in 1913].

Frankly, Jimmy sounds rather too good to be true; "a skilful and courageous natural flyer, Melrose was tall, flaxen haired and blue eyed; while conforming to the popular ideal of a hero, he avoided lionization. He exercised seriously, swimming at Glenelg where he and his mother lived; he kept early hours, neither smoked nor drank alcohol and ate 'Oslo' lunches."

No, I have no idea what an Oslo lunch is either, but I expect it's very healthy and nutritious.*

He flew to England to take part in the MacRobertson Race in 1934; before the race, which included a prize based on a handicap formula involving loads of parameters, Jimmy said the weight of his D.H. 80 Puss Moth would be fine ‘as long as I’m not in it’. Anyway, he did eventually win £1,000 by being placed 2nd in the handicap section.

Died 5th July, 1936 near Melton, a farming town 25 miles north west of Melbourne, aged 22. His Heston Phoenix (the first of only 6 ever built), in which he offered rides 'from Adelaide to Anywhere', broke up in flight.

He had named the aeroplane 'Billing', his mother's maiden name; his first aeroplane was 'My Hildegarde' (his mother's name) and the second 'Westley' (her middle name). I think you could say he and his mother were 'close'.

Australia went into full celebrity funeral mode: "services were held simultaneously in Melbourne's and Adelaide's Anglican cathedrals; schoolchildren lined the route from St Paul's to Springvale necropolis, as planes circled overhead. In Adelaide both Houses of parliament suspended their sittings and St Peter's Cathedral was packed, mainly with women, who had idolized Jimmy. Three Royal Aero Club Moths flew over as the service ended."


MacRobertson Race in 1934

King's Cup in 1935

*p.s. Helen Blake has kindly saved me the bother of looking up 'Oslo Lunch'; it's “a Norwegian invention combining a cheese and salad sandwich on whole meal bread, milk and fruit”. Thanks Helen, and in return I think we should all buy her book on Jimmy, see http://www.jimmymelrose.com/

photo: 1930, aged 27

Mr Frederick George Miles

Brilliant aircraft designer, and... biro manufacturer. Taught to fly by (and formed the Southern Aircraft company with) Cecil Pashley.

The story of the Miles Aircraft Company is being put together here:



King's Cup in 1930, 1935

Olive Muriel Tremayne Miles,  in 1928

from Badminton in Gloucestershire, who owned a 1929 DH.60G Gipsy Moth, G-AAEU.


photo: 1915, when a 2nd Lieut, RFC, aged 23

photo: 1936, aged 44

Maj Allister Mackintosh Miller

b. 10 September 1892 in Scombeni, South Africa.

Known as 'Mac'; WWI pilot and founder of Union Airways, which was sold to the South African Government in 1934.

Allister Miller

"One of South Africa's most famous aviation figures"

"A little incident which shows the sort of man Major Miller is happened at Gravesend a short time ago. Mac had just landed after flying the Mew Gull. He then told Capt. Percival that he did not like to tell him before, as he thought it might worry him, but except for a short flight in a Vega Gull he had not flown for two and a half years! "I knew it would be quite all right " was what he told Percival."


Schlesinger Race in 1936

mini - jessie miller

Jessie Maud Miller (not looking particularly chubby, I'd have said) in 1927

'Chubbie' Miller (Mrs Keith Miller), the first woman to complete an England to Australia flight

d. 16 December 1972 in London

photo: 1936, aged 36

Flt-Lt Robert E M B Milne

"Born in Canada in 1900 and educated at Brandon, Manitoba and Christchurch, Oxford. Saw active service in the air during 1917 and has been instructing for 13 years. Has collected 6,000 hours and has an A.1. Category, CFS. During five years at Cranwell he taught three Groves Memorial prizewinners [for the best all-round pilot in the senior term]."

Left the RAF in 1931 and joined National Flying Services at Reading, later taken over by Miles Aircraft for whom be became chief pilot. 1936-8, instructor at Skegness for Aircraft Distributors, Ltd. Post-war, Airspeed's senior test pilot at Portsmouth.

"Robert Milne, in his younger days, was a great athlete. For Cranwell he played rugger, hockey, cricket and was in the College boxing team. In 1923 he won the welterweight championship of the R.A.F. and, in the same year, was runner-up in the Inter-services championship."


King's Cup in 1936

Jan Johannes Moll

"Jan Johannes Moll was born at Surabaya on March 6, 1900, and entered K.L.M. by way of the Netherlands-Indian Air Force and K.N.I.L.M. In 1931, with Capt. Pattist (now K.L.M. Chief of Flying Services at Schiphol), Moll flew a Fokker FVIIB (Abel Tasman) from Batavia to Melbourne and back. His Indian Archipelago flying experience is probably unique."

Died at Aalsmere, The Netherlands, on 12th December 1988, aged 88

MacRobertson Race in 1934

photo: 1934, aged 31

Mrs Amy Mollison

see Amy Johnson



SAC with Jim and Amy 1933

with Amy and Sir Alan Cobham in 1932 or 33


James Allan Mollison MBE


Born 19th April 1905 in Glasgow, and educated at Glasgow and Edinburgh Academies.

RAF commission in 1923, transferred to reserve 1928, then a lifeguard and air-mail pilot in Australia. Made many record flights; his philosophy seems to have been "...one cannot be young for long, and it has always been my practice to live for the moment." He and Amy were married in July 1932, but They Said it wouldn't last, and it didn't; Jim had to fly Black Magic back by himself after the Race; Amy went on KLM.

Jim joined the Air Transport Authority (ATA) early in WWII, and carried on right through until 1946, ferrying more than 1,000 aircraft, comprising nearly every type used by the RAF - he was a 'Class V' pilot (authorised to fly any type of aircraft without previous instruction). He reckoned he had "on a conservative estimate, successfully delivered not less than 15 million pounds' worth of aircraft."
Jim re-married and divorced twice, continued drinking [he once said that, when he was cold, tired and frightened, he recommended "brandy, lots of it"] and ended up as the owner of a London pub.

Died 30th October 1959 in Surbiton, London, aged 54

 jim mollison RAeC 1939 RAeC 1939

Educated: Glasgow and Edinburgh Academies
Commissioned RAF 1923, transferred to reserve 1928, subsequently air-mail pilot in Australia
Record flights:
Australia-England. July/Aug 1931. 8 days 19hrs 28min
England-Cape (first flight by West coast Route) Mar 1932 - 4 days 17hrs 5min
First solo Westward North Atlantic flight. August 1932
First solo westward south Atlantic flight, and first flight England-South America, February 1933
First flight England to USA (with Amy Johnson) July 1933
England to India (with Amy Johnson) October 1934. 22 hours
New York-Newfoundland-London (North Atlantic record crossing coast-to-coast 9 hours 20min) October 1936
England-Cape by eastern route, November 1936. 3 days 6hrs.
Joined ATA early in war. Released in 1946, after ferrying more than 1,000 aircraft, comprising nearly every type used by RAF - single, twin and multi-engined)
Rank: Flight Captain
Category as pilot: Class V (authorised to fly any type of aircraft without previous instruction)
Ferried aircraft all parts of England, Scotland, North Ireland, France, Belgium, Holland.
On conservative estimate successfully delivered not less than £15,000,000 of aircraft.
For his war-time service in the ATA, Mr Mollison was awarded the M.B.E.

MacRobertson Race in 1934

Venetia Montagu

Beatrice Venetia Stanley, b. 22 Aug 1887; in 1915, she married the Hon Edwin Samuel Montagu, later Secretary of State for India. He died in 1924, though.

She already had an interesting past. In 1912, when she was 26, the 60-year old, married, Prime Minister Asquith fell in love with her, and over the next three years wrote her 560 letters, sometimes three a day, detailing his most intimate thoughts and documenting the growing crisis which led to WWI.

Asquith wrote to her in 1915; "Darling - shall I tell you what you have been and are to me? First, outwardly and physically unapproachable and unique. Then, in temperament and character, often baffling and elusive, but always more interesting and attractive and compelling than any woman I have seen or known".

Mrs Asquith, inexplicably, wasn't so keen; she said Venetia was 'a woman without refinement or any imagination whatsoever'.

Venetia was descibed then as 'tall, with dark eyes and a strong nose and face... widely read and vaguely eccentric; she kept as pets a bear cub, a penguin and a fox'.


It was probably G-AFBW, the third of her Moths, which she used to tour Spain in December 1930. ‘Flight’ reported their exploits on December 5th:

“The Hon. Mrs. Edwin Montagu, who has just returned from a tour of Spain in her light aeroplane, tells a story illustrative of the development of flying in that country. When passing over the coast at Valencia, she decided to land, but was unable at once to find a suitable landing ground. What was her surprise, therefore, to sight a "windsock" on the beach. Her pilot brought the machine down on beautifully firm sand, and a courteous Spaniard hurried across the beach to greet them. He was the owner of a cafe on the edge of the sands and had installed the "windsock" on the restaurant roof to attract the increasing number of private flying enthusiasts in his country. He wheeled Mrs. Montagu's machine into the yard behind the cafe, and took charge of it while she and her pilot visited the town. He said that the installation of a wind-indicator had been an inspiration, and that many airmen see it and come down for refreshment, the broad stretch of hard sand making a good landing ground.”

The fact that the report mentions ‘her pilot’, and that there is no record of her ever having gained her Royal Aero Club Certificate, strongly suggests that she did not fly the ‘plane herself.

However, it was certainly G-AFBW which she, and her pilot Rupert Bellville, used the following year (1931) when they decided to tour Persia and Russia.

They left Heston on March 27th and reached Budapest on April 1. On April 5, “when flying to Sofia, they made a forced landing at Nisch, Jugoslavia, but were able to proceed later. The flight was continued on April 7 from Sofia to Constantinople.”

They left Constantinople on the 13th April, but 20 days later on May 2nd, met with a mishap: “when flying from Teheran to Moscow, their machine crashed near Sabzawar, Persia, and, although the machine was burnt, they were both unhurt.”

It only took her a couple of weeks to find another aeroplane, however; she “obtained a new—or rather a second-hand—mount with which to continue her tour. She purchased a ‘Moth‘ in Iraq, and left for Astrabad, on the Russian frontier, on May 16.”

They arrived in Moscow from Tashkent on June 1st, and left for Berlin on June 3rd.

Venetia Montagu owned:

ex-Adelaide Cleaver's 1929 DH.60G Gipsy Moth, G-AAEA;

a 1929 DH.60G Gipsy Moth, G-AAJO;

a 1930 DH.60G Gipsy Moth G-ABFW, the one she crashed in Persia in May 1931, and later

a 1934 DH.85 Leopard Moth G-ACLN, which went to Spain.

She died in 1948, aged 60; only then did her daughter discover the letters that Asquith had written to her.

 Florence Mary Morris-Davies

Florence Mary Head as was, b. 17 September 1881 in London, daughter of Sir Robert Garnett Head, 3rd Bt. and Florence Julia Pollock. She married Percy Meyrick Morris-Davies of Llanfarian, Cardiganshire on 17 July 1922, and - after a honeymoon in Wales - they lived at Guestling House, Guestling, Sussex. After he died on 1 January 1934, she took up flying, got her RAeC Certificate at the Cinque Ports Flying Club in June 1936 and bought a B.A. Swallow, G-AEMD, in August 1936.

She used this to attend the 'Maygar Pic Nic' fly-in in 1937, arranged by the Magyar Touring Club to celebrate its birthday, and won a prize: "Those pilots who landed at the aerodrome at Szekesfehervar—near Lake Balaton—on June 15 between the hours of 10.00 and 14.00 were eligible for a competition, which was decided by a draw to select the sealed time. Much to everybody's pleasure, the eventual winners were announced to be Mrs. Morris Davies and Mrs. Macdonald, who, between them, had flown a B.A. Swallow to the Picnic."

The following year, they used the same aircraft to tour the south of France. In the intervening April, she advertised in the times for an 'educated girl' to act as house-parlourmaid; "capable of caring for one dog; easy situation, country house and seaside flat; one lady, two house staff".

She moved to Woodford Green, London, by 1940.

For some reason, she had to change her name by deed poll in 1949 from 'Florence Mary Davies' to 'Florence Mary Morris-Davies'. She described herself then as a "widow, of Greystones, Kingsgate in the county of Kent".

She died on 3 July 1979.


photo: 1930

Mr A G Mortimer

King's Cup in 1930

Mr T W Morton

King's Cup in 1934, 1935, 1938

photo: 1930

Capt A F Muir

King's Cup in 1922, 1923

Frederick 'Alan' Irving Muntz

b. 7 Jun 1899

Co-founded Airwork Ltd with Nigel Norman in 1928; this company was instrumental in opening Heston Aerodrome the following year.

Married 3 times (see below).

d. 7 Mar 1985

Aerial Tour in 1930

Mrs. Mary Lee Muntz

Mary Harnett as was, Alan's first wife, with whom he had 3 children.

However, in 1934 he married Lady Margaret Frances Anne Vane-Tempest-Stewart (1910–1966), daughter of the 7th Marquess of Londonderry and then, in 1948, Marjorie Mary Helena Strickland.

She married Sydney John Folley in 1947.

Aerial Tour in 1930

F/O P Murgatroyd

Posted to the School of Army Co-operation, Old Sarum. in 1923, then H.Q. Iraq in December 1924

Air League Challenge Cup in 1921

ATA Lesley Murray

Lesley Cairns Murray 1939

in 1939

Lesley Cairns Murray

lesley murray signature

b. 22 Jan 1917 in Edinburgh

Having learnt to fly under the Civil Air Guard scheme in 1939, Lesley first applied for the ATA in March 1941:

Dear Madam,

Mrs Clayton suggested that I should write to you for information with regard to the possibility of joining the ATA.

I am enclosing my pilot’s log book from which you will see that I have not had very much experience [she had 6 hours solo]. This is due to the fact that I started flying under the CAG Scheme, and had to have my lessons at the weekends whenever possible, or on occasional evenings after work. Civilian flying was stopped very shortly after I got my A Licence. My log book seems to be complete with the exception of one trip, dual, to Le Bourget, France, and an hour’s landing practice, solo, on about the last flying day before the war.

I know that it is impossible to judge future possibilities on such limited experience, but my instructor at Horton Kirby Flying Club seemed quite confident that I would make a good pilot, and suggested that I should take an instructor’s Licence with a view to teaching there.

I would be most obliged if you would keep my log book and licence until such time as you think it possible for me to have a test or an interview.

It proved to be a long wait. Meanwhile, she joined the Volunteer Ambulance Corps, continued to send letters asking to join the ATA, and continued to get rejection letters back.

Finally, two years later in March 1943, she got an interview with Pauline Gower, and went for her flying test. It’s a wonder she could remember anything at all about flying an aeroplane, but she scraped through somehow:

“A highly educated girl but appeared nervous during the examination [blimey, there's a surprise]. Somewhat under confident but careful.”

On the 22nd May 1943, she finally got her long-awaited call-up to the ATA, and grabbed the chance with both hands. Her final training report in July 1944 says this:

“This pilot promises to become a ferry pilot of high order. She tackles all her work with quiet confidence and it is difficult to believe that she had so little experience prior to joining ATA. Her discipline and appearance are both excellent and she will be an asset to any Pool she joins.”

Sadly, she was killed within a year; on the 20 April 1945, her Hudson V AM854 got out of control and spun into the ground near Popes Field, Taplow, Berks. Cadet Geoffrey Bernard Regan also died with her.

One of the ATA Women


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