Sophie Elliott-Lynn / Lady Mary Heath

Royal Aero Club Certificate No. 7975 (4 Nov 1925)

  in 1925

 

 Lady Heath at Roehampton

 

b. Sophie Catherine Theresa Mary Pierce-Evans on 10th November 1896 in Knockaderry, Co Limerick, Ireland; her crazed father beat her mother to death (with a stick) and was jailed for life, so she was brought up by her aunts.

A well-known, courageous, determined and forceful sportswoman, an athletic 6-foot tall Irishwoman 'never averse to publicity' (which earned her the nickname 'Lady Hell-of-a-Din') who was elected World Champion Lady Aviator by the USA.

At Stag Lane in 1926, Mrs Elliott-Lynn formed a small group owning a pale blue Moth, but was also the "somewhat erratic" pilot of an S.E.5...

...which she crashed a year later at Brooklands.

In the same year, when Lady Bailey and Mrs Geoffrey de Havilland hit the headlines with a world record climb to 17,283 ft, Avro countered with Mrs Elliott-Lynn climbing to 19,200 and making a 1,300-mile trip in a single day, during which she made 79 landings.

Then, her first husband Major Elliott-Lynn having died off, Sophie married Sir James Heath, Baronet, and thereby became Lady Heath.

"Lady Heath stepped from her tiny aeroplane at Le Bourget after her long flight from the Cape in May 1928, as fresh as a daisy. 'It is so safe that a woman can fly across Africa wearing a Parisian frock and keeping her nose powdered all day.' This was the first solo flight from any overseas Dominion to Britain, and she was the first woman to pilot an aeroplane from Cape Town to London.

Unfortunately, Sophie was not very good with Sir James' money; she was rather too easily persuaded to "buy a lot of things" and send him the bill. Having given her £20,000 as a marriage settlement and bought her an aeroplane, he was eventually obliged to take out a note in the newspapers forbidding her to "pledge his credit". The marriage was dissolved in 1932.

Having fled to America, Sophie finally became plain Mrs Williams; he was an airman from Kentucky.

d. 9 May 1939, aged 42, in London when she fell down the stairs of a tramcar. She left £204.

Sophie owned, at various times:


the 1925 prototype DH.60 Moth (G-EBKT), also
a DH.60 Moth G-EBMV,
an RAF SE5A (D7016, G-EBPA),
a 1927 Avro 594 Avian I  G-EBQLA,
a 1927 Avro 594 Avian IIR3 G-EBRS,
a 1927 Avro 594 Avian IIIR3 G-EBUG 'for the use of Miss Earhart',
a 1928 DH.60X Moth G-EBZC, and
a 1929 DH.60G Gipsy Moth G-AASY.

 

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