W.75  First Officer Helen Marcelle Harrison 
 flag canada  b. 7 Dec 1909, Vancouver, B.C., Canada 1 May-42 to 22 Mar-44 


helen barnes 1934

RAeC 1934


W075 Harrison Helen 



ata helen harrison 





nee Testemale

Father : Albert Jules Testemale, Mother: Gertrude Helen Marie [Harrison], a midwife, d.1958

Ed. in England and Belgium

Lived at The Hostry, Llantilio Crossenny, Abagavenny from 1910-1926

m 1927 Robert W Barnes in Steyning, Sussex [divorced, 3 sons Robert, Peter and David]

prev. Flying Instructor

Learnt to fly in 1933 at the Sussex Aero Club, when living at Coombe Dingle, Queens Park Rd, Caterham, Surrey

 She owned 3 aeroplanes in England before WWII, all based at Shoreham;

- G-ACMH, a 1933 Miles Hawk (sold to Denmark in Sep 1934),

- G-ACGB, a 1933 DH Fox Moth (sold to India in Mar 1935), and

- G-ACWW, a 1934 Miles Hawk Major (sold to Leslie Hiscock in 1939). She entered this in the London to Cardiff Race in October 1934, piloted by J Sale.

She then changed her name by deed poll to Harrison in Apr 1935, and announced it in The Times: "I HELEN MARCELLE HARRISON, of 33, Heathurst Road. Sanderstead. Surrey, hereby give notice that I have RENOUNCED and ABANDONED the NAME of HELEN MARCELLE BARNES. and that I have assumed and intend henceforth on all occasions whatsoever and at all times to SIGN and USE and to be called and known by the name of HELEN MARCELLE HARRISON in lieu of and in substitution for my former name of HELEN MARCELLE BARNES. And I also give notice that such change of name is formally declared and evidenced by a Deed Poll under my hand and seal, dated the 20th day of April. 1935"

Sailed from England to South Africa in Dec 1935 

 m. Louis Botha de Waal (divorced 1939)

 Sailed back to England from Cape Town in Feb 1938, then to New York in Apr 1939. When there, she stayed with her mother, Gertrude, at 5102 Evelyn Byrd Rd, Richmond, VA.

 In July 1939, the Star-Phoenix of Saskatoon, said "Flying around Hamilton these days is a young Vancouver-born woman whose exciting aviation career has taken her over most of South Africa, Great Britain and the United States."

"The Vancouver aviatrix has spent most of her time over the past six years in the air. She said she found flying cost money, so she turned instructor and taught at the Pretoria and other flying schools throughout South Africa. She holds five aviation licenses, including English 'A' and 'B' commercial, a South African 'B' licence and both United States and Canadian commercial licenses."

She flew on a Trans-Canada Airlines Lodestar from Toronto to New York on 3rd March 1942 for her interview with Jackie Cochran. She then sailed to the UK with Evelyn Hyam to join the ATA, arriving 25 May 1942.

While with the ATA, she sailed to New York on 21 Jul 1943, and returned as supernumerary co-pilot in Mitchell FR185, 19-24 Sep 1943.

Address in 1942: 680 Oriole Parkway, Toronto

Sailed to New York on the Queen Mary, 31 Mar 1944.

 In 1949, she was living with her parents in Curtis St, Lochdale, B.C.

m. 1969 Donald M Bristol, and thereafter was known as Harrison-Bristol

In 1973, named to the Order of Icarus and in 1974, Canada's Aviation Hall of Fame: "The career dedication of her flying skills to instruct an almost entirely male population of students, despite adversity, has substantially benefited Canadian aviation."

d. 27 Apr 1995 - Blaine, WA



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

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