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Constance Leathart

Constance Leathart

British female pilot
The basics
Quick Facts
Intro British female pilot
A.K.A. Constance Ruth Leathart
Gender female
Birth 7 December 1903 (Low Fell)
Death 4 November 1993 (Northumberland, North East England, England, United Kingdom)
Star sign Sagittarius
Education Cheltenham Ladies' College
The details

Constance Ruth Leathart (7 December 1903 – 4 November 1993) was a British female pilot who flew Royal Air Force aircraft on transit flights in World War Two as an Air Transport Auxiliary.


Born into a wealthy family on Tyneside, Leathart started flying lessons in 1925 at Newcastle Aero Club. She wrote her name as "C. R. Leathart" on the application form, and was accepted before the club realised her gender; when she received her flying licence in 1927 Leathart became the first British female pilot outside London, and one of the first 20 overall. She started an aircraft repair business, Cramlington Aircraft, with Walter Runciman, later Viscount Runciman, participated successfully in air races with him, and was one of a group of flying socialites. She was "one of the first women to fly over the Alps, in a de Havilland Tiger Moth", and was the first in Great Britain to design and fly a glider. When World War II broke out she was working in the map department at Bristol Airport and volunteered as one of the first members of the Air Transport Auxiliary, female pilots who delivered aircraft from the manufacturers; her instructor in military flying was her cousin John "Jack" Armour. She achieved the ATA rank of Flight Captain, flying heavy bombers as well as fighters to airfields in many countries.

After the war ended she became a United Nations special representative to the Greek island of Icaria and received an award of merit from the International Union for Child Welfare. She reluctantly gave up flying in 1958 and retired to a farm in Little Bavington, Northumberland, where she cared for rescued donkeys. Leathart is buried at Thockrington church; she had requested her grave not be marked, but friends placed as a marker the stone she used to step into her unheated swimming pool every day regardless of weather.

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