Have you ever heard of the British female aviator Sheila Scott? If not, you should have, as she broke over 100 records over her lifetime, including being the first person to fly over the North Pole in a small plane.
Born in Worcester, Worcestershire, England, on April 27, 1922, Sheila Christine Hopkins had a troubled childhood and did not do well at school, coming close to being expelled on several occasions. During World War Two, she joined the British Navy and trained to become a nurse in a naval hospital.
Scott got her pilots license in 1958
To be more memorable in 1943, Sheila Hopkins took up acting using the name Sheila Scott, something she maintained well after finishing acting. She also was married briefly to a man called Rupert Bellamy.
Scott’s aviation career began in 1958 following nine months of lessons at Thruxton Aerodrome just west of Andover, in Hampshire, England.
Her first aircraft was a four-seat Thruxton Jackaroo an aircraft derived from the de Havilland Tiger Moth biplane. Scott owned and flew the
Thruxton Jackaroo from 1959 until 1964 before purchasing a Piper Comanche 260B in 1966. With this plane named “Myth Too” Scott went on to set 90 world records. Her first solo around the world flight departed London Heathrow Airport (LHR) on May 18, 1966, and ended on June 20, 1966, during which time Scott flew for 34 days, covering a distance of approximately 31,000 miles. Between 1969 and 1970, Scott flew her aircraft around the world for a second time before later using a borrowed Piper Comanche 400 N8515P to set more records.
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Scott appeared on an American TV show
On November 20, 1966, Scott went to New York City, where she appeared on the popular American panel show “What’s My Line?” a show where celebrity panelists have to determine what someone does for a living or what they achieved that makes them unique. Scott later appeared on another American television show, To Tell the Truth, where she received three out of four possible votes.
In 1971 Scott bought a twin-engine Piper Aztec 250, which she named Mythre in which she completed her third around the world flight. Sadly the plane was destroyed in a flood in 1972 at the Piper Aircraft factory in Lock Haven, Pennsylvania.
Honors and affiliations
Scott was the founder and first governor of the British branch of the Ninety-Nines, an association for female pilots created by Amelia Earhart. Founded in 1929, the Ninety-Nines is an international organization that provides mentoring, networking, and flight scholarship opportunities for female recreational and professional pilots.
Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan entering their Lockheed Electra 10E in San Juan, Puerto Rico, during an around-the-world flight attempt, a mission that would sadly lead to their disappearance. Photo: Getty Images
Scott was also a member of the International Association of Licensed Women Pilots and the Whirly-Girls, a non-profit, charitable, and educational organization founded by Jean Ross Howard Phelan, an American helicopter pilot in 1955. At the time of its creation, there were so few woman helicopter pilots. The Whiley-Girl’s purpose was to provide a community for female helicopter pilots to share interests and remove feelings of isolation. Today the organization has over 1,700 members in 44 countries.
In 1967 together with three others, Scott was awarded the Harmon International Aviation Trophy for setting a new light plane speed record of 28,633 miles solo in 33 days and 3 minutes. A year later, in 1968, Scott was awarded the Order of the British Empire (OBE). An OBE is awarded to British citizens who have played a significant role in any activity that has made them nationally known in their chosen field. Scott also has one of the buildings at the University of Worcester is named in her honor.
Sadly for Scott, the fame faded, and she ended her life in poverty living in a bedsit in Pimlico, London. A bedsit is a one-room apartment consisting of a combined bedroom and sitting room with cooking facilities. At the age of 66, Scott was diagnosed with cancer and died at the Royal Marsden Hospital, London, in 1988.
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