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World’s only female Spitfire pilot killed in car crash

Former Spitfire pilot Carolyn Grace has passed away aged 70, her family have confirmed.

It is with great sadness that we must announce that Carolyn Grace has been killed in a car accident on Friday December 2 2022,” announced Daisy Grace, Carolyn’s daughter-in-law.

Originally from Australia herself, Carolyn was driving in New South Wales where her Suzuki was struck by another vehicle 120 miles south west of Sydney; a fatal accident tragically reminiscent of the crash that took the life of her husband, Nick, in 1988.

Nick and Carolyn pioneered the restoration of Spitfires from their Cornwall home in the 1980s, including the ‘Grace Spitfire’ ML407; a historically significant airframe which saw combat over Normandy on D-Day and flew more than 176 operational missions during World War Two. Nick, an engineer as well as a pilot, spent five years rebuilding ML407 and first flew it in 1985.

Carolyn Grace pictured with ML407 in 2011.

Following his passing, Carolyn took up the mantle of flying ML407; explaining to the BBC in 2011 that “to keep our Spitfire operational and keep it for the embodiment of my husband I had to learn to fly it”. She completed her first solo flight in 1990, becoming the type’s first female pilot since the girls of the wartime Air Transport Auxiliary. After achieving her Display Authorisation, Carolyn went on to fly the Grace Spitfire at airshows across Europe, logging more than 900 hours on the type.

As well as a pilot and airshow performer, Carolyn was also the director of vintage aircraft maintenance and restoration company Air Leasing Ltd, based at Sywell, Northampton. ML407 is currently operated by Ultimate Warbirds, also based at Sywell.

New South Wales are continuing their inquiries into what the Grace family describe as a “traumatic, and unexpected, loss“.


Author: FTN Editor

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