Artefact of the Month Archive

THE WAAF WHO FLEW A CIRCUIT ON A SPITFIRE

August, 2009

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.

Talks by Tangmere

The Museum is pleased to be able to offer speakers to interested groups or societies on a range of subjects connected with the history of operations at RAF Tangmere and other military aviation subjects.

The presentations are usually given as an audio/visual presentation using the Museum's equipment. Our presentations can be tailored to suit audiences ranging from specialist societies to community based groups and range in length from 40 to 90 minutes depending on the subject matter.

Further details of the full range of presentations and the availability of speakers can be obtained by calling the museum on 01243 790090, by emailing your interest to director@tangmere-museum.org.uk or by letter marked for the attention of the Director.

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