First Brit woman to fly round world honoured by Scots museum


A MODEL who became the first British woman to fly around the globe solo has been honoured by a Scottish museum.

Fashionista Sheila Scott was known to fly in her bare feet in a plane better suited for weekend enthusiasts rather than daring voyages across oceans.

And she even designed her own range of clothing including a purple jumpsuit and pixie boots which would often be worn during flight.

Along with a special mirror used for applying her make up, Scott commandeered her American Piper Comanche PA-24-260B called ‘Myth Too’ around two record breaking voyages around the globe.

This year marks the 50th anniversary of Scott becoming the first British pilot to make a solo round-the-world trip covering approximately 31,000 miles in her single-engine plane.

Sheila Scott was known to fly in her bare feet
Sheila Scott pictured with her plane

Scott’s fragile-looking plane is now a highlight of a £3.6m refurbishment at Scotland’s National Museum of Flight in East Lothian, unveiled this weekend.

The museum holds 90 personal items belonging to Scott including a prized trophy won in Thruxton Air Race.

A number of navigational instruments and survival objects from her famous flight including a thermos flask and a “piddle pack” are also being put on display.

Little is known about Scott’s early life. She grew up in Worcester, and served in the Second World War as a nurse before taking up acting and modeling.

Scott married in 1945 by the relationship lasted only six years.

In 1960 she earned her pilot’s licence and bought a biplane from the RAF in which she started racing.

In 1966, before setting off on her navigation around the world, Scott said: “The major aims of this British attempt are to be the first Briton round solo in a light aircraft.

“To make the longest solo flight in history, touching the Commonwealth wherever possible.

“To be the first non-American woman round solo (third woman round) and to break certain records which necessitate the weight restrictions.”

Despite being beleaguered by technical problems and having to island hop over the swathes of the South Pacific, the aviatrix managed to complete the trip two weeks ahead of schedule.

Scott, who died aged 61 from lung cancer, broke every record she set herself smashing 104 aviation records and, in 1971, became the first woman to circle the world solo by flying over the North Pole.

Speaking about her beloved aircraft during an edition of BBC Women’s Hour in the sixties, Scott said: “She is a very special person, I don’t even think of her as a piece of machinery.

“She is a person in her own right. I owe a very good deal to Myth Too. She is my home, my child.”
She added: “Male pilots very often said to me, ‘you are much too sentimental about your aircraft’ and when I take them up they always leave the aircraft and say ‘well, you know there is something special about this aircraft.’.”

Ian Brown, assistant curator of aviation at National Museums Scotland, said Scott had a special routine every time she landed.

“She would not just taxi up the runway, she would go to a quiet part and do her make-up because she knew photographers would be waiting,” he said.

Speaking about Scott’s successful 1966 flight, he added: “She was a very brave woman.

“In the middle of the Pacific Ocean you are hundreds of miles from land, so you have to go via either radio signal or astral navigation by the stars; a tiny mistake can lead you thousands and thousands of miles off course.

“It was quite risky and dangerous with absolutely no guarantee of success.

“For someone to fly around the world then and even today is a big thing, even now there are far fewer female women pilots than men. It is still very much a male dominated world.

”Each flight is a triumph, not only over machinery, weather and terrain but over oneself.”