Buckingham Covers - First Day Covers

Yvonne Pope Sintes


Born in 1930, Yvonne fell in love with aeroplanes aged 8 and knew she had to fly. She tried joining the Royal Air Force, but in 1948 they would not teach women to fly, so she became a stewardess with Scottish Airlines and then with British Overseas Airways, learning to fly with their Airways Aero Club.

After obtaining her Private Pilots License she was able to join the RAF Volunteer Reserve. The hours she gained helped towards an instructor's rating, the course given by her husband, who sadly died the day after the birth of their second son. She continued instructing to support their boys and helped start a Commercial Pilots Training School at Exeter Airport. When it was in jeopardy, due to a change in regulations, she became the first woman air traffic controller with the Ministry of Aviation in 1980 – despite some initial prejudice.

Based at Gatwick Airport on tower, approach and radar duties she took her turn in charge of air traffic at Stornoway Airport in Scotland. In between she flew the Ministry Doves radar target flying for the Air Traffic School.

Against residual prejudice she then became the first woman pilot with Morton Air Services in 1965, flying the Dakota, Heron and Dove around Britain and near Europe. As the pilots chairman in 1969 she was unable to accept a new contract being imposed and was then accepted by Dan-Air - without prejudice. She again flew the Dakota, then the Ambassador and then was the first woman to fly the Comet, her favourite. Gaining a command on the H.S. 748 and then the B.A.C. 1-11 in 1975 she became the first woman airline jet captain in Britain. She flew all around Europe, the Canary Islands and the near East until retiring in 1980, due to family ill health.

She was honoured by the Lord Brabazon of Tara Award for flying instructing, the inaugural award to a European Air Traffic Controller by the International Owner and Pilots Association, the Sir Alan Cobham on becoming an airline pilot and the Amelia Earhart Scholarship for career advancement. In 1974 she was also presented with the Whitney Straight Award for achievement in aviation by H.R.H. Princess Anne and on retirement the British Airline Pilots Silver Medal for work towards air safety.