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SHEILA SCOTT


Sheila Scott belongs in the company of Lindbergh and Earhart and Saint Exupéry.
Philip K. Chapman, astronaut.

  1. Introduction
  2. The first flight around the World
  3. The second flight
  4. The third flight
  5. Conclusion

1. Introduction :

Sheila Scott logo
Sheila Scott was certainly an extraordinary aviatrix for her time, and twenty years after her death, some of her achievements have yet to be matched. To add to her merit, aviation was still primarily a masculine pass time where women pilots were considered annoying amateurs. Navigation techniques had still to be developed and were far from those of today. For Sheila, as for some other pilots, aviation was her salvation, the means to find herself, to make a name for herself, and to find her place in the world.

Sheila was born Sheila Christine Hopkins, in Worcester, England in 1927. She had a turbulent childhood and did not do well at school, nearly being expelled several times. During WWII, Sheila joined the services as a nurse in a naval hospital. She had many love affairs and got married in 1945. The marriage lasted only 6 years before it finished in a divorce. She then had what she called "near marriages". Sheila tried her hand at many jobs: acting, dress making, modelling, and others, but nothing would satisfy her. She felt defeated and full of emptiness, and turned to Buddhism in her search for fulfilment. There was something mystical about her, a 'sense', that had been with her all her life, and can perhaps be seen as the secret sign she had painted on all her aeroplanes, the meaning of which remained a secret to the end.

One day in 1959, in a fit of defiance, Sheila made a bet, and announced that she was going to learn to fly. This was like a revelation. Sheila threw herself into aviation as if nothing else mattered. She learned on a De Havilland Tiger Moth, a biplane, and was soon to buy one of her own. It was a modified Tiger Moth with an enclosed cabin and a widened fuselage, which allowed the two seats to be side by side. This model is called a Thruxton Jackaroo, from the name of the airport, where the modification is made. Sheila had it painted blue, with silver wings, and named it Myth, the feminine of Moth. She also had her secret logo painted on it.

She flew a lot in Myth, going all the way to Europe, and she also won many speed races in her. Sheila then did her night licence, but when she tried to obtain her commercial licence, she was unable to pass the medical examination as her eyes did meet the required standard. Sheila was terribly disappointed, but not to be daunted, she flew to the US where she managed to obtain her commercial licence, and from the U.S., she made many ferry flights.

Sheila hired a Piper Comanche 250, registration "UZ" that she called Myth II, flying it all over Europe and winning many races. After selling her first aeroplane, Sheila learned to fly helicopters and hot air balloons. However, this was not enough for her, her dream being to 'break' or 'set' records. Hiring a Comanche 400 that she called Myth Sun Pip, the name born from a news paper and from the Piper Company, Sheila set 15 records between London and five European capitals: Brussels, Paris, La Hague, Dublin, Madrid and Malta, all in less than 36 hours. Thirteen of these records are still standing today. Her next goal was to beat Geraldine Mock's record around the world, set in 1964, and also to beat Amy Johnson's record between London and Australia set in her Gipsy Moth Jason.

After lengthy preparations, Sheila decided to use a Comanche 260 instead of the Comanche 400, which was much faster but burned more fuel. Also, for long flights, where range was more important than pure speed, it was not as good. Sheila, although short of funds to purchase another aeroplane, was helped out by Sir Allan Cobham, one of the pioneers of British aviation. Sir Allan was knighted after his flight from London to Cape Town in November 1925. Later, in 1926, he flew to Australia and back in his De Havilland DH50, G-EBFO, which could be fitted with floats.


The new Comanche was to be fitted with ferry tanks in Geneva. It was called Myth Too, registration G-ATOY.



  1. Introduction
  2. The first flight around the World
  3. The second flight
  4. The third flight
  5. Conclusion
1. The first flight around the World :

Sheila Scott logo Finally, on May 18, 1966, Sheila was ready. At the London airport, she touched the statue of Alcock and Brown, in the hope that the two pioneers would bring her luck. Alcock and Brown had been the first to cross the Atlantic, on June 14 and 15, 1919, in a Vickers Vimy, from Saint John in Newfoundland to Clifden, at the west end of the Galway County in Ireland. The flight had taken the pair 16 hours and 27 minutes.

Sheila had radio problems at the start of the flight, delaying her by 6 hours. She made a night landing in Rome, resting a day while her radios were repaired. She then proceeded to Athens, and arrived in Damascus on Friday May 20, and Bahrain and Karachi on May 22. Pakistan International Airlines repaired her HF radio. Everywhere she went, she was well received.

On her way to Dehli, Sheila had to detour to Jaipur to avoid heavy thunderstorms, arriving in Delhi on May 24, and continuing to Bangkok after a stop in Calcutta. The next morning it was discovered that someone had left the master switch "on", and the battery was flat. Later that day, she lost all her radio navigation instruments. She crossed huge thunderstorms, typical of the Intertropical Zone of Convergence. She finally reached Rangoon in Burma with great difficulties. Technicians of Burma Airways repaired her radio while she rested. Leaving Rangoon, all Sheila's radios were working, but awhile later, she lost all her gyroscopic instruments, and could no longer fly IFR, which meant she had to return to Rangoon for repairs. Finally, departing on May 28 in heavy rain with extreme turbulence and a strong head wind, Sheila diverted to the Royal Australian Air Force base of Butterworth on the west coast of Malaysia, arriving in Singapore on May 29 and Bali on the 30th.

On May 31, Sheila left Bali for Darwin, where she was very well received. Unfortunately, on departing Darwin the next day, Sheila discovered that her HF antenna had been cut. Flying on to Mount Isa, then Brisbane and finally Sydney, Sheila is welcomed by personalities, among them Nancy Bird Walton.

Sheila had a rest day while engineers at Bankston Airport worked on Myth Too. The weather was thundery when she left for New Zealand. In Auckland, Sheila had the pleasure of meeting Jean Batten's brother, who gave her the Harmon Trophy Medal received by Jean in 1937. Sheila Scott was also a recipient of the Harmon Trophy in 1967 for the same flight. After a short refuelling stop on Norfolk Island, Sheila arrived in Nadi, Fiji, and landed in American Samoa on June 8, after crossing the date line.

The next day, also the 8th, Sheila landed on the small atoll of Canton Island, a very small dot in the vastness of the Pacific Ocean. In those days, the airport was used to refuel airliners crossing the Pacific, but today, it is almost deserted. Leaving Canton, Sheila again had problems with a dragging HF antenna, which failed to deploy. The antenna was required for long distance communications, but with her aircraft heavily laden with fuel to make it to Hawaii, Sheila could not turn back and continued on without HF. After 12 hours, a Hercules of the American Coast Guard, called her on the emergency frequency, and kept her company all the way to Hawaii. It was here that Sheila had the pleasure of meeting veteran ferry pilot, Max Conrad, who was ferrying a Comanche, similar to hers. Very much overloaded, Sheila departed Hawaii on June 11th. Soon after take off, the very strong smell of gas invading the cabin, caused her considerable concern, and Sheila worried that she might have a fuel leak. The smell persisted for 2 hours, and was probably caused by the over flow of one of the cabin tanks.

In San Francisco Sheila received a huge welcome, and the next day in El Paso, she met Max Conrad again, who was there with his wife Betty. It was then on to Oklahoma City and New York. She left the American continent from the Gander Airport in Newfoundland, for the Azores, where she planned to land in Santa Maria, but was diverted to Lagans. After a last stop in Lisbon, Sheila arrived triumphantly in London on June 20, 1966.

Sheila had flown around the World solo, and although feeling tired, she was both very happy and proud of her achievement, especially when she heard someone say: "How good it is to see a British pilot here again making record attempts". She was impressed that it had been said 'a British pilot' and not a 'woman pilot'.

Sir Allan Cobham, who had helped Sheila to get Myth Too, was one of the first to congratulate her. She had flown 31000 Miles, or nearly 50 000 km., in 189 flying hours, at an average speed of 166 mph, or 265 km/h. The speed for her around the world record, calculated along the great circle route, was 29 055 miles at 36.68 mph or 59.01 km/h.

Sheila felt honoured to receive a congratulatory telegram from Prince Phillip, and the famous Guild of Pilots gave her their Silver Medal. She received an invitation to meet the Queen at Buckingham Palace, and also met King Hussein, an avid pilot. Italy bestowed upon her the "Isabella d'Este" title. Sheila had succeeded, and was very happy.

As part of a publicity campaign organised for her, Myth Too was hung in front of a London department store, causing Sheila much disappointment. With a lack of money, Sheila could no longer fly, a recurring problem she was to face many times. An industrialist, Ken Wood gave her the chance of flying to Cape Town to celebrate the opening of one of his shops there. During this flight, Sheila set several records, breaking Amy Johnson's 1936 records in a Percival Gull Six, by 4 hours on the way to Cape Town, and by seven hours on the return flight. Sheila also broke Jim Mollison's Atlantic record of 31 hours 20 minutes, which he set in 1932 in his Puss Moth Hearts.

Her record flight time was 17 hours and 14 minutes. Continuing the flight, Sheila toured Canada, then went on to New York, the West Indies, Trinidad, Natal, Dakar, Rabat, Madrid and London. It is during this flight that Sheila received the famous Harmon Trophy.

In 1968, Sheila wrote her first book: I must fly.



  1. Introduction
  2. The first flight around the World
  3. The second flight
  4. The third flight
  5. Conclusion
2. The second flight around the World (1969-70):

Sheila Scott logo
As much as her first flight around the world had been relatively easy and with few problems apart from radio trouble, her second flight was one which almost turned into a fatal catastrophe. The flight around the world began with an air race between London and Australia, starting in December 1970. Sheila's aircraft, still Myth Too, the Comanche 260B, G-ATOY, was number 99. The race started with an atmosphere of insinuations and innuendos toward Scott, probably triggered by jealousy of the excessive publicity Sheila received from some of the organisers and journalists. Some insinuated that the race was 'set up' so Sheila could win it. The problems Sheila experienced along the way appeared more loke sabotage than pure coincidence. The trailing antenna of her HF radio was cut. The weather during the flight was extremely bad, with thunderstorms and snow storms. The first stops were Athens, Karachi, Calcutta and Singapore. It was here, on take off, that Sheila lost all radio contact, leaving her with no means of communication.Then her navigation instruments died. Sheila continued her flight, navigating by 'dead reckoning'. For several hours, while flying without any form of comunication, Sheila imagined she could hear voices on her dead radios. Sometimes she flew in circles in heavy cloudsn and experienced extreme turbulence. Facing anxietyand isolation, in Sheila's own description of that part of the flight, she beleived she must have been having hallucinations.

Finally, through the clouds, Sheila spotted a runway and landed. It was a military airfield near Makassar in the Celebes. She was miles off track.It was only after several days that she could continue toward Kupand in Timor, but again bad weather forced her to stop, this time in Sumbawa, on Christmas Day. Sheila finally arrived in Darwin, where she back in 'civilisation' with reporters and more innuendos. Her aircraft was repaired before she continued towards Alice Springs and then on to Adelaide. The race resumed on New year's Day 1970n for Griffith. More insinuations, sabotage to her aircraft and false reports of her having made a forced landing, continued, causing Sheila to feel uncomfortable and insecure. After the London to Sydney race, Sheila decided to continue on around the world. The rest of the flight was a lot happier. From Brisbane, she flew to Noumea in New Caledonia, then to Nadi in Fiji and was welcomed wherever she went. Other stops were made in Tarawa, capital of the Gilbert and Ellices Island (now Kiribati), Hawaii, and finally the USA where all her radio and instruement problems were fixed.

Sheila had hoped to set some new speed records during this flight around the world, but this did not happen. The flight had a bad start dur to the winter conditions, along with her radio and instrument problems. Getting lost in the Indian Ocean in bad weather caused all sorts of innuendos to surface which deeply affected Sheila.



  1. Introduction
  2. The first flight around the World
  3. The second flight
  4. The third flight
  5. Conclusion
2. The third flight around the World :

Sheila Scott logo
Sheila Scott had flown around the world twice, and she had set or broken 94 world records. Again Sheila was tempted to fly around the world, to bring to one hundred, the number of records she set, as well as flying to the North Pole. Such a flight had never been attempted by a light aircraft. Sheila met astronaut Phil Chapman during a visit to Cape Kennedy when she was watching the launch of Apollo 14. It was here the idea was born of a solo flight to prove some of the new electronic techniques of NASA. The aim was to continuously follow an aircraft flying over Polar Regions, by the use of electronic surveillance. This could be done by communicating with a Nimbus satellite. Soon many organisations on both sides of the Atlantic joined in the project, and it was no longer an isolated solo flight, but a true international expedition.

The Comanche 260, Myth Too, a single engine, was not capable of flying those long legs with all that equipment. The aircraft to be used had to be an Atzec D, a twin engine machine, with two Lycoming engines of 250 HP each. The seat was removed and replaced by ferry tanks. It was called Mythre, and registered as G-AYTO. It was painted turquoise and gold, with a moth and the American and British flags added on the tail. Scott had to learn polar navigation, which was done with an astro-compass, and she also had to familiarise herself with the satellite communication system. This system continuously transmitted her personal parameters (heart beat, etc.), and measured her fatigue and lack of sleep, all along the flight.

The flight took her from the Equator to the Pole, and back to the Equator, before she resumed her third flight around the world, westbound, that is against prevailing winds. Sheila was to position herself at the Equator by flying first to Nairobi in Kenya, with an official departure date of June 11, 1970. The first stop was in Khartoum, on to Benghazi, arriving in London on June 16 to learn that her flat had been burgled. Among other things of strong sentimental value, her video camera had been stolen. She had wanted to use the camera to make a film of her flight, a film that she had hoped to sell. The robbery deprived her of an income she had counted on. Sheila never recovered financially from that loss.

Sheila left London for Bodo in northern Norway on June 22. Her auto-pilot broke down immediately, forcing her to hand fly the Aztec all the way to San Francisco where she had it repaired. The next day, Sheila positioned herself at the military airport on the Island of Andoya, where she topped up all her tanks for the long flight to the Pole. Taking off on June 25, heavily overloaded, Sheila encountered a lot of airframe icing, causing her airspeed to drop well below the norm. If that wasn't enough, one of the wheels did not fully retract, producing a lot of drag. With the reduced airspeed, Sheila knew she could never make it to Barrow on the North coast of Alaska, and diverted to the Nord Station at the Northeast tip of Greenland. Here she was welcomed by the Danes who manned the station, departing there on June 28 for the Pole, and Point Barrow in Alaska. It was here on August 15, 1935, that Wiley Post and Will Rogers were killed.

Wiley Post's flight around the World of can be seen here :

Sheila overflew the Pole, dropping a small British flag, and then after a slight turn to the left, flew on to Barrow, arriving there on June 29 after a flight of 17 hours. At the Pole, Sheila yelled happily in to the radio: "I am at the top of the world".

At Barrow it was discovered that one the aileron cables was rubbing one of the hydraulic hoses, cutting it, and preventing the wheel from staying retracted. After repairs, Sheila flew to San Francisco, arriving on July 3, after stops in Fairbanks and Anchorage. In San Francisco, Sheila met Elgen Long, who was interested in her installations, as he was planning a flight to both Poles. Elgen made this flight in his Navajo, Cross Roads Endeavour, in 1971, and his record, made in a light aircraft via both Poles, still stands today. After several days of festivities and rest, and after having many of the faults repaired on Mythre, including the auto-pilot, Sheila headed for Hawaii on July 11.

With stops on Canton Island, Fiji, Noumea and Townsville, Sheila arrived in Darwin on July 29. She dreamed of breaking the record set by Amy Johnson in 1937, in her Percival Gull, of five and a half days. Stopping in Singapore and Madras, Sheila did not rest for the remainder of the flight via Karachi, Bahrain and Athens. The total flying time for the flight was 29 hours and 45 minutes. Sheila had broken the record.

Although welcomed in London, with no film to sell, Sheila retreated to her burgled flat. "It was a great flight and I was glad to help scientific research as well" Sheila said.



  1. Introduction
  2. The first flight around the World
  3. Thes econd flight
  4. The third flight
  5. Conclusion
4. Conclusion :

Sheila Scott logo
Mythre was destroyed by cyclone Agnes that flooded the Susquehanna River in Lock Haven, Pennsylvania in 1972. The aircraft was at the Piper factory to be overhauled after the long flight around the world. Sheila Scott was devastated when she heard the news. She had put all her hopes in that aircraft and it was her only possession. It was in that aircraft that Sheila set her hundredth record.

The loss of the Mythre dashed all her hopes of flying to Antarctica. She published her second book, On top of the World, in Britain, and also under the title of Barefoot in the Sky, in the USA, in 1973. Ill health prevented Sheila from flying any more, and the loss of Mythre ruined her. She finished her life in a small flat in Pimlico in London, dying in 1988 at the age of 61.

Sheila was the founder, and the first governor, of the British branch of the Ninety Nines, a famous association for women pilots, which had been created by Amelia Earhart. She was also a member of the International Association of Licensed Women Pilots, and of the Whirly Girls, an association of women helicopter pilots.

Among other distinctions, Sheila received the Brabazon of Tara Award in 1965, 1967, 1968; the Britannia Trophy of the Royal Aero Club of Britain in 1968, and its Gold Medal in 1972. She also was awarded the Harmon trophy. (Click here for the list of recipients.)
She was made an Officer of the British Empire in 1968.


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