The world’s only female pilot has sadly passed away, having died in the same way that her husband did 34 years ago.
Carolyn Grace, 70, learnt how to fly Spitfire ML407 in 1998 as a tribute to her late husband Nick, who died in a car crash shortly after he finished renovating the decommissioned RAF craft that was used in the Normandy landings.
She became the first woman since the women of the Air Transport Auxiliary service in WWII to be a qualified Spitfire pilot.
Her family confirmed that Grace died in a car accident last Friday (2 December), decades after losing her husband Nick in the exact same way.
Daughter-in-law Daisy shared the sad news in The Grace Spitfire official Facebook group.
She wrote: “It is with great sadness that we must announce that Carolyn Grace has been killed in a car accident on Friday the 2nd of December 2022.
“This is a traumatic, and unexpected, loss to all of us and at this time we would like to request that you respect the family’s privacy.”
Grace’s son Richard was also in the car at the time of the accident, but only sustained minor injuries.
A spokesman for the Hume Police District in New South Wales said in a statement: "A woman has died and her passenger injured in a two-vehicle crash at Goulburn.
"The crash happened at 6pm on Friday 2 December 2022, when a grey Suzuki and a silver Hilux collided on Middle Arm Road.
"Officers from The Hume Police District attended and found a 70-year-old woman driving the Suzuki had suffered critical injuries.
"She was airlifted to The Canberra Hospital where she later died.
"Her passenger, a 38-year-old man, was taken to the same hospital with minor injuries."
Many of Grace’s fans paid tribute to her on Facebook after her daughter-in-law broke the news.
One commented: “Daisy, I am so, so sorry to hear your terrible news. Carolyn strapped me into the Spitfire a couple of times, I’ll never forget sharing those most exciting post flight moments with her. The perfect lady.”
Someone else said: “Terrible loss for the Grace family and the aviation community in general. RIP Carolyn and thanks for taking care of 'our' Spitfire for so many years.”
Grace - who was from the Australian state of New South Wales but lived in Cornwall - previously said she was met with opposition after deciding to step into the cockpit in her husband's place.
Speaking to the Independent in 1999, she explained: “I had a lot of pressure not to go solo, and then not to fly the aircraft in displays, because I had two children and I was widowed. It was irresponsible.
“There were no other women flying displays. Men said, ‘You don’t care about your children, how could you do that?’ It was pretty hurtful.”
She said one male pilot took her to one side to warn her against it.
Grace continued: “He put his hand on my knee and said ‘You don’t really want to do all this airshow stuff. It would be too much pressure. You’re lovely looking, you’re much better off to just leave it alone’,” she said, adding: “I agree with them, because it’s easiest. Then I get in the plane and p**s off! Ha!”
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