W.26  First Officer

Ann Courtenay Douglas MBE OBE

flag england

 b. 20 May 1917, Paddington, London  1 Dec 1940 - 19 Aug 1942 


ann edmonds 1934  RAeC 1934


Ann Welch 0257 0004  In 1959, at an RAeC 'do'




 née Edmonds

Father: Major Courtenay Harold Wish Edmonds (a railway engineer; RN and Royal Engineers in WWI, Royal Engineers in WWII, d. 1953), mother [Austin] (m. 1914 in Exeter) of Wish House, Bickley, Kent 

Ed. Stratford House School, Bickley, Kent

prev. Instructor, Dunstable Gliding Club; Founding Member of Surrey Gliding Club

prev. exp 185 hrs on 'standard light types'


m. 1939 Flt-Lt (later Wing-Cmdr) A 'Graham' Douglas (3 daughters, marriage dissolved 1948)

Address in 1940: Staplehurst Farm, Salfords, Redhill, Surrey


 1942 caricature by 'Sammy' Clayton

Postings: 5FPP, 15FPP

Two accidents, neither her fault:

- 23 Dec 1940, one wheel of her Queen Bee (the optionally-unmanned aircraft based on the Tiger Moth) sunk into a concealed hole, damaging the propeller

- 11 Mar 1941, another Queen Bee, an accident due to engine failure


Contract Suspended 19 Aug 1942, when she became pregnant

"After the war, in 1946, Ann restarted the Surrey Gliding Club at RAF Kenley, initially with five members – but no aircraft. Almost all the country’s gliders had been requisitioned by the RAF and had been broken up or rotten away in unsuitable storage conditions during the war.

Their first glider, a Weihe, was an ex-German requisition. In 1947 the club relocated to nearby Redhill airfield – it wouldn’t return to Kenley until 1985 as the Surrey Hills Gliding Club which still flies from the airfield.

Ann worked hard to re-establish the British Gliding Association, resigning as its vice chairman in 1976. She managed the British Team at the World Gliding Championships between 1948 and 1968. She presided over the formation of the British Hang-Gliding Association in 1974 and was president of the British Microlight Association. She was also a Fellow of the Royal Aeronautical Society and in 1997 was elected as an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Institute of Navigation.

Awarded an MBE and OBE for services to gliding, Ann Welch was an amazing all-rounder. A mother of three girls, she was a pilot, an instructor, a flying competition organiser, national administrator, author, painter, skier and one of Kenley’s famous faces."https://www.kenleyrevival.org/content/history/local-lives/ann-welch-aviatrix-extraordinaire


 m. 1953 in Surrey,


Patrick Palles 'Lorne' Elphinstone Welch (who played a major part in designing the famous two-seater glider secretly constructed in the attic of Colditz Castle PoW Camp. d. 1998):


 © RAeC [0517-0226]

Receiving the Royal Aero Club Silver Medal [from Lord Brabazon], for her service to the advancement of gliding, 26 Mar 1959


Wrote her autobiography, 'Happy to Fly' in 1983


d. 5 Dec 2002 - "the world's best-known glider pilot"


 Download ATA Pilot Personal Record (.zip file):download grey


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