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Jackie Moggridge, Spitfire Girl

On March 1, 1922, in Pretoria, South Africa, a young girl named Dolores Theresa Sorour was born.

During her childhood, she was taken by the performance of a female hockey player named Jackie Rissik. Because of Ms. Sorour's interest in this athlete, she adopted the nickname "Jackie" for herself.

Dolores Theresa Sorour, nicknamed "Jackie," took her first flight at age 14 and was hooked. By the age of 15, she began taking flying lessons and went on to acquire her "A" Pilots' License.

At 17, she became the first woman to do a parachute jump in South Africa.

In 1938 she moved to England to acquire her "B" Pilots License to become a Commercial Pilot at the Aeronautical College at Witney, Oxford, Great Britain.

However, just a year into Jackie's Commercial Pilots' course, World War II broke out, grounding all flying clubs. Her flying career came to a halt.

World War II

There has been a lot written about the men flying fighter aircraft during the war, about their daring dog fights, and the aircraft they flew.

However, little has been written about the many female pilots who were not allowed to fly in combat.

Jackie had immediately offered her services to the RAF (Royal Air Force), but she was quickly shown the door; she was told they didn't take women combat fighter or bomber pilots!

But, before the fighter and bomber pilots could fly these aircraft, they had to be built in a factory, flown to an airbase, and then turned over to the military.

With a shortage of pilots on the battlefront, how would they get these aircraft from the manufacturer to the air base where they were needed?

An Opportunity Appears

In Great Britain, during World War ll, all of the male pilots were assigned to fly fighter and bomber sorties, so that left no one to ferry the airplanes from the factory to the air base where they would be based.

By this time, Jackie had joined the WAAF and began her military service as a radar operator. But, her burning desire to fly still stoked her desire to serve and help the war effort as a pilot.

Soon it became apparent that the War Department needed more pilots, many of which would be needed to ferry aircraft from the factories to the airfields.

Like many of the women who were interested in flying, Jackie joined the Women's Auxiliary Air Force and began her military career as a radar operator until she was able to join the Air Transport Auxiliary in 1940.

The Air Transport Auxiliary Is Formed

This job fell to the ATA (Air Transport Auxiliary), which did accept female pilots, and one of those interesting young female pilots was Jackie Moggridge of South Africa.

The Women's Commandant, Pauline Gower, recruited Jackie, who was the youngest of the female pilots at the time.

During her service, she flew and delivered more than 1,500 aircraft consisting of 83 different aircraft types by the end of the war.

Jackie Moggridge in her ATA uniform beside a Spitfire she was about to deliver

In 1945 she was awarded the King's Commendation Medal for Valuable Service in the air during World War II.

The Women's RAF Volunteer Reserve (WRAFVR)

Jackie married an army Lt. Colonel and engineer named Reginald Moggridge in 1945 and had two daughters with him.

She still had the burning desire to be a pilot, and in 1949 became a Pilot Officer in the WRAFVR, finally qualifying for her RAF (Royal Air Force) wings in 1953.

She was only the second of the first five women to gain their RAF wings.

One of the more exciting opportunities presented to her was the opportunity to fly one of several surplus Spitfires from Cyprus to Rangoon and others to the Indian Air Force and on to Burma.

Over her career, she flew 501 Spitfires, and for sure, her favorite aircraft. 

In fact, she was the first pilot to fly Spitfire ML407, which participated in D-Day and later was owned by another female pilot, Carolyn Grace.

The Channel Airways

In 1958 she submitted her application to become a pilot for Channel Airways based at the Southend Airport.

Always clever, she did not disclose her sex on her application.

Because of her impressive flying history, she was hired, becoming the first British woman airline Captain to fly passengers on scheduled flights.

During her career, she flew the Isle of Wight, Jersey, and Guernsey routes for the airline.

A Woman Pilot (Spitfire Girl)

Jackie went on to write a book about her experiences titled "A Woman Pilot," later republished under the title "Spitfire Girl."

The book is still available on Amazon, and not only is it a good read, and it will provide you with plenty of laughs.

Jackie was a natural comedian!

In the meantime, keep your eyes safe and focused on what's ahead of you, Hersch!

 

 

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