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Artefact of the Month

THE WAAF WHO FLEW A CIRCUIT ON A SPITFIRE

In early 1945, Margaret Ida Horton was a WAAF (Fitter Mechanic Airframes) at RAF Hibaldstow, a satellite airfield to RAF Kirton-in Lindsey, Lincolnshire. Friday 9 February 1945 dawned a cold and overcast day with slight drizzle. However, by late morning the wind had increased considerably and the Duty Controller instructed that ‘rough weather’ procedures should be observed. These procedures included measures to ensure the safety of taxiing aircraft.

Margaret Horton was instructed to assist the pilot of Spitfire AB910 by sitting on the tailplane whilst he taxied to the take-off position. This was common practice in such conditions to prevent the aircraft ground looping.

At the end of the runway the pilot turned into wind and carried out his pre take-off checks. Forgetting Margaret was still on the tail, he commenced his take-off run. Margaret realising she could not jump off safely, clung on to the Spitfire’s rudder upright. After take-off the pilot quickly realised that his aircraft was not handling correctly; the reason for his predicament had also been seen by people on the ground. Fortunately, he was able to turn into the circuit and managed to land safely with Margaret still clinging to the aircraft.

MARGARET HORTON’S FLIGHT IS RECREATED IN A DISPLAY IN THE WOMEN IN THE AIR FORCE EXHIBITION. HER STORY WITH PHOTOGRAPHS IS ALSO FEATURED IN THE ‘WAAFs ON DISPLAY’ SECTION OF THE ‘WOMEN IN THE AIR FORCE’ TOUCHSCREEN. THE DISPLAY SHOWING MARGARET CLINGING TO THE SPITFIRE AND THE TOUCHSCREEN ARE LOCATED IN THE MUSEUM’S TANGMERE HALL.

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