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Wed, Jun 20, 2012

Gone West: Maureen Dunlop de Popp

WWII Female Spitfire, Hurricane Pilot Was Also A Cover Girl

ANN has learned that Maureen Dunlop de Popp, who had flown Spitfires, Hurricanes, and Lancaster bombers during the Second World War, passed away recently at the age on 91 in Britain.

Dunlop became a member of Air Transport Auxiliary (ATA) in 1942. Women were not allowed to fly in combat, but the female pilots based at White Waltham in Berkshire were trained to fly nearly 40 different types of aircraft for the purpose of ferrying them between factories and military airfields.

The London Daily Mail reports that Dunlop racked up more than 800 hours flying with the ATA. A photograph of her leaving the cockpit of an airplane in 1944 became a featured cover of Picture Post Magazine.

Dunlop was Argentinian by birth, but regularly visited England. She took her first flying lesson at the age of 15 in England, and also flew at St. Hilda's College in Buenos Aries.

Determined to help with the war effort, Dunlop returned to the UK in 1940s with her sister. She had to fight hard to gain access to the ATA. Female pilots were required to have 500 solo hours to be allowed to fly the military planes, while male pilots needed only 250 hours. She made at least two emergency landings during her time as a ATA pilot. One when the canopy blew off the Spitfire she was flying just after takeoff, and another when the engine of an Argus airplane failed during a flight.

After the war, she returned to Argentina, where she flew as a commercial pilot and instructor. She met her husband, Serban Victor Poppin in 1955 at a British Embassy function there, and they moved back to England in 1973. He passed away in 2000.

In 2003, Dunlop was one of three ATA pilots to be awarded the Guild of Air Pilots and Air Navigator's Master Air Pilot Award. (Spitfire, Hurricane images from file)

FMI: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Air_Transport_Auxiliary

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