This film is part of Free

The Flying Doctor

Snow is no barrier for 74 year old Helena as the propellers get fired up on her Hornet Moth and off she flies over the hills of South Yorkshire.

Documentary 1988 10 mins

From the collection of:

Logo for Yorkshire Film Archive


With only 3% of all airline pilots worldwide women, 6% in Britain, this film of 74 year old Dr Helena Hamilton piloting her a De Havilland Hornet Moth shows that neither gender or age should be a barrier to flying an aircraft. It’s 1988 in the middle of winter in Doncaster, but Helena, inspired by John Magee’s poem ‘High Flight’, reveals her passion both for flying – vowing to continue until she is no longer able; and for her beloved plane – not willing to sell at any price.

Dr Helena Hamilton was born in South Australia, learning to fly in South Africa. She served on Mountbatten's staff in Burma, and was attached to the Allied Staff at the Nuremburg War Crimes Trials. On discovering that her Hornet Moth was stationed at the Aeroplane and Armament Experimental Establishment at Martlesham in Suffolk when built in 1936, Helena became Vice-President of Martlesham Heath Aviation Society. Helena died on August 24th 2001. Her Moth is still in service. At the start of the war women joined the Air Transport Auxiliary as pilots, eventually flying everything from Spitfires to Hurricane (apart from the largest flying boats). 15 lost their lives, including pioneer aviator Amy Johnson.