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Five Fascinating Facts: Sheila Scott's Record Breaking Flight

18 May 2023

Five Fascinating Facts: Sheila Scott's Record Breaking Flight

On 18th May 1966, British aviator Sheila Scott started up her plane's engines and set off from Heathrow in the attempt at proving herself to be one of the greatest pilots of a generation.

Her aim was to make history by completing a solo flight around the world, becoming the first British pilot, male or female, to achieve this feat. Her journey covered 31,000 miles and took her through 33 stops along the way.

While many people are familiar with the broad outlines of Scott's achievement, there are several lesser-known facts that make her story even more fascinating which we felt it was worthwhile discussing. Here are the top five things you may not know about Sheila Scott's record-breaking flight.

  • The Route

Sheila Scott's journey around the world took her through a challenging and diverse range of terrains, including the deserts of the Middle East, the mountains of Asia, and the vast expanse of the Pacific Ocean. Her route was carefully planned to take advantage of prevailing winds and to avoid the risk of flying over hostile territories. Along the way, she made stops in cities like Karachi, Hong Kong, and Honolulu.

Her journey took her over 35 days, during which she faced a range of technical, physical, and emotional challenges. She described feeling like a "speck in the universe" during one particular part of the route which took her through a severe storm over the Pacific and lasted for over 16 hours.

  • The Plane

For her solo flight around the world, Sheila Scott used a specially modified Piper Comanche plane, which she named Myth Too. The plane was equipped with extra fuel tanks to extend its range, as well as a host of other modifications designed to make it suitable for long-distance flying.

Despite these modifications, the plane still faced a range of technical issues during the flight, including a malfunctioning fuel pump. To fix the issue, Scott had to improvise by using a pair of pliers to manually pump fuel from the rear tanks to the front tanks, a process that took several hours but ultimately allowed her to continue her journey.

  • The Challenges

Sheila Scott's solo flight around the world was not without its challenges. Along the way, she faced personal challenges, such as the loneliness of being alone in the cockpit for extended periods and the exhaustion of flying for hours on end. However, she found a companion in her dog, a miniature dachshund named Blackie, who accompanied her on the journey.

Blackie was the stay which helped to alleviate some of the loneliness and provided comfort and support to Scott during the long hours in the cockpit. The ever-wagging tail of a dog was once again there to help a human through a tough time.

  • The Records

Despite this flight having the purpose of breaking one particular record, Sheila Scott set several other records during her solo flight around the world, including being the first British pilot, male or female, to complete the journey solo.

She also set a new record for the fastest time for flying from London to Cape Town, as well as for the longest solo flight by a woman.

Her achievements helped to break down gender barriers in aviation and inspired many other women to take up flying.

  • The Aftermath

Following her record-breaking flight, Sheila Scott became a well-known figure in aviation circles and beyond. She continued to set new records and inspire others, including through her advocacy work on behalf of women in aviation.

Some of the other records which she went on to achieve, included a transatlantic flight from New York to London in a single-engine plane and a flight from London to Sydney, Australia.

  • Conclusion

Sheila Scott's solo flight around the world remains a remarkable achievement in the history of aviation. Her journey was a testament to the power of perseverance, ingenuity, and determination, and it continues to inspire people around the world today. Her legacy lives on today, as a symbol of courage, determination, and excellence in the field of aviation.

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