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British Industrial History

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Dorothy Norman Spicer

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Dorothy Norman Spicer (1908-1946), aeronautical engineer

1908 Born in Hadley Wood, Middlesex

Educated at Godolphin School, Brussels and University College, London.

1929 Learned to fly at London Aeroplane Club, Stag Lane. During her flying training she met Pauline Gower; they became great friends and decided to form a business partnership as soon as they had finished training/

1930 Gained Pilot's "A" Licence

1931 Gained Ground Engineer's "A" and "C" licences.

1931 Entered into partnership with Miss Pauline Gower in joyriding and taxi work. Toured the country on own account, as pilot and ground engineer, but business was not easy.

Joined the Crimson Fleet air circus and later the British hospitals' air pageant. During this period Dorothy gained valuable experience especially as she had to strip down, repair, and rebuild their Spartan aircraft's engine on several occasions.

She persuaded the manufacturers of their Spartan to allow her to obtain the necessary practical and theoretical training at their workshops to earn her "B" licence, becoming the first woman in the world to do so.

Dorothy and Pauline decided to provide joyrides and aerial taxi trips from the holiday town of Hunstanton, Norfolk, which they built into a commercial company, Air Trips Ltd, the first registered aeronautical company staffed and owned by women.

c.1935 She became the first woman to hold a "D" licence, authorizing her to inspect, pass out, and repair both engines and airframes.

c.1937 They accepted an invitation from Tom Campbell Black to tour with his British empire air display.

Then they established an aerial garage on Hayling Island where pilots could bring their aircraft for service and repair but this was wound up after a while.

1938 Took a job with the Air Registration Board in London,

1938 Married Flight Lieutenant Richard Pearse. One child was born the next year.

1940 Dorothy joined her husband at the Royal Aircraft Establishment, as an air observer and research assistant.

1946 She and Richard were killed in the crash of an airliner on which they were passengers.


See Also

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Sources of Information

  • Biography of Dorothy Norman Spicer, ODNB