Carolyn Grace Obituary, Pilot and Owner of “The Grace Spitfire” Killed in car accident – Death

Carolyn Grace Obituary, Pilot and Owner of "The Grace Spitfire" Killed in car accident - Death

Carolyn Grace Obituary, Death –  Carolyn Grace was born in 1952 and died on December 6th, 2022. The pilot and owner of the aircraft known as “The Grace Spitfire.” Carolyn Grace was born in Australia in 1952. She met and married Nick Grace, a design engineer and private pilot. After their marriage, the couple moved their family to England. The couple purchased Spitfire ML407 from the Strathallan Museum in late 1979. They then spent the next five years restoring the aircraft to flying condition as a one-of-a-kind two-seater. The restoration included the “Grace in line Canopy Conversion,” which Nick designed to remove the rear canopy’s bulbous shape and replace it with a more streamlined design. This allowed the couple to maintain the Spitfire’s original silhouette. In the early part of the year 1985, Nick finished the restoration, and on April 16th, the aircraft took to the air once more with Nick at the controls and Carolyn in the rear cockpit. ML407 was initially constructed at Castle Bromwich in the early months of 1944 as an F.Mk.IX. It served in the front line of battle with six different Squadrons during the final year of World War II. The ML407 crew completed a total of 319 hours of combat flight time over the course of 176 operational combat sorties. It was flown by Johnnie Houlton, of the 485(NZ)Sqn, and it was the first aircraft flown by the allies to shoot down an enemy aircraft on D-day. In later years, it underwent modification to become a two-seater and was put to use by the Irish Air Corps as a trainer.

A young ATA pilot by the name of Jackie Sorour had been the one to deliver the airplane to the Selsey airfield in West Sussex back in April of 1944. After a number of years had passed, Jackie and Carolyn became good friends, and when Jackie passed away at the age of 81, Carolyn scattered her ashes from the ML407. Carolyn, a young mother with two children of her own, took over as the legal guardian of ML407 in 1988 after Nick was killed in a car accident. She came to the conclusion that it was the “Grace Spitfire,” and that a Grace should continue to pilot it. Since she already held a private pilot’s license, she decided to start training for it. Even though many people outside of her family were critical of the idea of a mother of a young family learning to fly a warbird, she chose to ignore those people. Her family was supportive of her decision.

In 1990, Carolyn flew ML407 on her own for the first time, and she gave the plane the name “Grace Spitfire” as a tribute to and in memory of her husband Nick. Carolyn completed the requirements for her display authorisation in 1991, after which she went on to earn qualifications in aerobatics and formation flying over the subsequent two years. Before retiring from flying in 2017, Carolyn had spent over 900 hours in the cockpit of the Grace Spitfire, which she had displayed for the previous 25 years. However, she never took off without at least one tube of lipstick tucked away in the pocket of her flying suit, as Dame Vera Lynn had recommended. In order to cover the costs of operating the aircraft for 70 hours per year at a rate of £5000 per hour, she sold the family home in 2014 while she was traveling. Yesterday, Carolyn Grace was involved in a car accident in Australia, which ultimately took her life. Her son Richard Grace, who is now 38 years old, continues to maintain and fly the aircraft from the location that formerly housed the RAF at Sywell, which is close to Northampton. In addition, she is survived by her daughter Olivia, who is 40 years old and is also connected to the aircraft.

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