Women in History – 27 April

Sheila Scott OBE (27 April 1922 – 20 October 1988), was an English aviator.

Born Sheila Christine Hopkins in Worcester, Worcestershire, England in 1922, educated at the Alice Ottley School, she broke over 100 aviation records

through her long distance flight endeavours, which included a 34,000-mile (55,000 km) “world and a half” flight in 1971. On this flight, she became the first person to fly over the North Pole in a small aircraft.

Born Sheila Christine Hopkins, she had a turbulent childhood in Worcester and did not do well at school, nearly being expelled several times. During WWII, she joined the services as a nurse in a naval hospital.

In 1943, she started a career as an actress as Sheila Scott, a name she maintained long after she stopped acting. She had a short marriage from 1945 to 1950 to Rupert Bellamy.

In 1958 she learned to fly going solo at Thruxton Aerodome after nine months of training.

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

She was appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in 1968. One of the teaching buildings at the University of Worcester is named after her. She received the Brabazon of Tara Award in 1965, 1967, 1968. She received the Britannia Trophy of the Royal Aero Club of Britain in 1968. She received the Royal Aero Club’s Gold Medal (1972).

Before her death, Scott lived in a bedsit in Pimlico in poverty. She was diagnosed with cancer and died at age 66 at the Royal Marsden Hospital, London, in 1988.