Home Life & Style Hero pilot's daughter flies in her father's Hurricane

Hero pilot's daughter flies in her father's Hurricane

Eugenie Brooks said her flight over dad John’s wartime airfield in Kent was “absolutely amazing”. She took aloft a treasured snap of the hero who flew Hurricanes and Spitfires from 1940 to 1943 over Britain and the Med, winning the Distinguished Flying Cross and Distinguished Flying Medal.

She said: “I feel very emotional, excited and proud. This means the world to me. We flew over [RAF] Manston in his plane and in his air space. I can see why the Hurricane was the plane my dad loved the most. She is beautiful, she smells so nice and is so responsive.

“When we flew over Manston at about 500ft and we waggled the wings, I felt that my dad was with me. I was looking at the base through his eyes. He told me that when he returned from raids across the Channel, the sight of Manston as he came in to land was very welcoming. I have done this for my dad, and for his mates who did not come back. It’s also in honour of the ground crews.

“[He] would come back from a raid with his Hurricane full of bullet holes and they would patch it up and rearm it, and off he would go again.”

Eugenie, 55, a retired police motorbike escort rider, was taken up by the world’s sole female Hurricane pilot – Anna Walker from the Biggin Hill Heritage Hangar at the former Battle of Britain fighter base in south London.

The plane was converted by Hawker Aviation into a unique two-seater. John flew it with 174 (Mauritius) Squadron and it still displays its wartime XP code.

Eugenie – who flew in a dual-seat Spitfire from Biggin Hill last year – said her father was shot down on one raid but helped by the French Resistance, returned to Britain via the Pyrenees.

John also provided air support for the Allies’ ill-fated Dieppe amphi-bious raid in 1942, “flying so low that he brought back the aerial of a German tank in his radiator”.

After the Second World War he flew RAF transport planes then worked for Iraqi Airways and BOAC, retiring as a British Airways captain. He died at 73 in 1993 but Eugenie’s mother, Joan, lives in Maidenhead aged 90.


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