Spitfire Girl Jackie Moggridge – Meeting Report February 2022
Our talk this month was about Jackie Moggridge, the ‘Spitfire Girl’, who grew up in South Africa, but always thought of herself as a ‘Taunton girl’ after her marriage and move to the county town. The account of the determination and achievements before and after her arrival in Somerset, given to us by Candy Adkins, one of her daughters, left us astounded. She became the youngest female pilot in South Africa, but to become a commercial pilot she then had to train in the UK as there were no aeronautical colleges in South Africa.
War broke out during her training, and she joined the WAAF, and then the Air Transport Auxiliary, flying 82 different types of warplane from factories and maintenance depots to airfields, and faulty planes back. This was all done without the use of radios or radar, to avoid being spotted by the enemy, so pilots had no navigation aids other than a compass and maps, and could also follow railway lines. This gave her the opportunity to fly a Spitfire, which had been one of her great ambitions. She was able, when she was 74, to be a passenger in the same Spitfire, but also took over the controls when in the air, and found that she could still remember how to fly it.
Jackie gained several awards for her work, but found it difficult to get a permanent job after the war. In 1958 she applied to be a pilot with Channel Airways based at Southend Airport, neglecting to mention she was a woman. She got an interview and managed, using her impressive flying record, to get the job – the first woman airline captain to pilot commercial flights. She wasn’t allowed to make any announcements, though – passengers could not know that the pilot was female, or they might not fly with Channel Airways again!
The Jackie Moggridge Cup, awarded annually in her memory to inspire girls to fly, was introduced in 2021 at Cranwell College to be awarded to an Engineer or Aircrew Graduate who has shown outstanding potential.
After a break, we had updates on the interest groups. There is a busy programme of sociable activities ranging from netball to gardening, supper and breakfast gatherings, plus the less energetic book and writing groups. We will again be providing the refreshments at the Repair Cafes this year.
A challenging but enjoyable session of ‘quingo’, a cross between a quiz and bingo, ended the evening.
Our next meeting will be at the Beambridge Inn on 17 March, at 7.30 pm. We will have a talk on ‘Dogs for Good,’ and visitors are very welcome. If you would like any more information about us, please email [email protected] or call 07773 350459.