Margaret's Wild Ride
February 9, 1945 - Today was the day Margaret Horton, a flight mechanic in the Women's Auxiliary Air Force, found herself riding the tail of a Spitfire fighter plane.
Margaret had just finished some repairs on the plane. It was customary to do a test flight following maintenance, so the plane was rolled onto the runway. Due to high winds that day, Margaret sat on the tail section to keep the plane steady during the taxi. This was also part of the normal routine.
What happened next was totally unexpected. The pilot gunned the engine and took off, apparently not noticing that Margaret was still attached. The out-of-balance Spitfire twisted and turned through an awkward ascent and the pilot immediately knew something was amiss.
After reaching an altitude of 1000 feet the plane made a hard banking maneuver and headed back to base. Miraculously it was able to land safely with Margaret still clutching the craft's tail.
Following her adventure, Margaret was reprimanded for her unapproved flight and billed for the loss of her beret.