March 9, 1979

Watford Observer: On this day in south west Hertfordshire... On this day in south west Hertfordshire...

The light aircraft in which Sheila Scott made the first female solo flight around the world crashed in the playing fields at Haberdashers’ Aske’s school, Elstree, on Tuesday morning.

Three men were travelling in the Piper Comanche 260B plane (called Myth Too) at the time, but none of them was hurt in the accident.

The men, members of the Lodge Flying Group, had just taken off from Elstree Aerodrome on a flight to the Isle of Man when they discovered a fault in the oil pressure. They headed back towards Elstree but did not quite make it to the runway, and had to make an emergency landing in the playing fields.

The six-seater plane was being piloted by the club secretary Mr Max Coote, of north London, who bought the plane, in which Sheila Scott made 94 records in 1971.

“She sold it to me to help finance her other aircraft in which she was planning to make the first solo flight over the Poles,” he said.

[From the Watford Observer of March 9, 1979]

NOSTALGIA NOTE: Sheila Scott, born Sheila Christine Hopkins in 1927, broke more than 100 light-aircraft records between 1965 and 1972 and was the first British pilot to fly solo around the world in 1966, covering about 31,000 miles (50,000 km) in 189 flying hours.

She set world records when she flew between London and Cape Town (1967) and across the North Atlantic (1967), the South Atlantic (1969) and from equator to equator over the North Pole (1971). After her record polar flight, she made a third around-the-world solo flight, earning her 100th world-class record. She died in 1988, aged 61.

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