Jackie Gets RAF Wings and Flies Jets
In due course, the war ended and Jackie was presented with ‘The King’s Commendation for Valuable Services in the Air’ by Clement Attlee, the then Prime Minister, on behalf of the King. and later the Queens Coronation Medal. With the war over, Jackie still wanted to continue flying and joined the WRAF (VR), where she did actually formally gain her RAF ‘wings’ in 1953, just one of five women to do so at that time, which she always wore with pride and with a love of her country.
The only one in a skirt!
"Only one man, or woman, has ever worn R.A.F. Wings who has not qualified for them: Sir Winston Churchill. An exception that adds to their lustre."
"After, one hour and forty minutes of relentless appraisal. I landed bathed in sweat and exhaustion, quite sure that I had failed!"
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During her service Jackie managed to notch up 83 different types of aircraft, including the then novel jet powered Meteors. Women were still very much swimming against a very strong tide of prejudice in those days and recognition was hard won. Things have started to change since then and in 1991 the RAF erroneously boasted that they had trained and awarded ‘wings’ to the first female RAF pilot - wrong by 38 years.
Jean Lennox Bird, the first woman to get her RAF Wings, jauntilly turned up at the RAF Club having applied to join but omitted her gender. She was not allowed to enter because she was a woman even though she was a Flying Officer just like the men.
Jackie's daughter Candida Adkins at the RAF Club to speak at the "Celebration of Women RAF dinner.
Candy is honoured to now be a member of the Club, something her mother was not allowed to be when Jackie was commissioned.
To carry Britain’s
The pride of British heritage
Lay deep in me when born
Like Drake and all in bygone age
Inspired to greet the dawn.
Though frightened to the very core
Yet who should say I cannot try
To follow all who’ve gone before
To carry Britain’s banner high.
My heart soon fills with ecstasy,
Ambition opens wide the road
My eyes can see eternity
To fly for Britain is my code
I study hard to reach my goal.
But find it’s really not enough.
The help of V.I.P.‘s I’m told
Is needed to make things less tough.
No V.I.P. can I acquire
They’re much too busy to help me
Although my efforts they admire
It’s NO, the answer to my plea.
Too much Red Tape they can’t untie
Especially as I female be
Yet all I want to do is fly
A super-sonic Jet you see.
My mother wrote the above poem in frustration when her crusade to be the first woman to fly through the sound barrier was thwarted by prejudice from the Air Ministry
How things have changed! Today the RAF has the highest ranking female Officer in the armed forces, in Dame Air Marshal Sue Gray and the first woman Air Commodor of the RAF Club was Barabara Cooper - see photo in front of Celebration of Women window at the RAF Club Picadilly London
Recently the RAF Club commissioned this beautiful stained glass window commemorating women in the RAF. It includes Jean Lennox-Bird 1st woman to get her wings, The WAAF, ATA and WRAF all three of which Jackie was part of. It recognises the female Engineers, Spitfire Builders, Drivers, Radar Operators, Barage ballon operators and Riveters and many more occupations taken on by women who kept the airforce going during both world wars.
CEO Miles Pooley, host Air Cdr Barbara Cooper CBE (top left), member Candida Adkins (top rt), Club Chairman, Dame Air Marshal Sue Gray (centre)
"After the melancholy affair of the Sound Barrier – I had a shrewd suspicion of what the Air Ministry thought of ‘that Moggridge' woman’
"The flares dropped away and were left behind as the midnight blue enveloped us in welcome. Mechanically I looked ahead for the horizon. But there was nothing except the instructor’s head bent intently forward over the instruments as we climbed like a submarine into the sea of night."
Jackie joined the WRAF(VR) an gets her wings.
Docs from RAF Headquarters Air Command with details of Jackie's RAF Wings course and promotion. Jackie had to learn night flying and on instruments with radio which she had not been allowed to do in the ATA
Jackie in the cockpit of a jet, taken 25 August, 1953, whilst in the WRAF(VR) during her campaign to become the first woman to break the Sound Barrier
Below Jackie's grandaughter Lavina Lara Bo Adkins was the only girl to be awarded the Commendation for being an outstanding RAF Cadet. Granny Jackie would have been so proud.