Launching the 2011 air show season, Imperial War Museum Duxford’s Spring Air Show, on Sunday 22 May, celebrates the integral role played by women in the development of aviation. From technological advancement to daring aerial aptitude, in military and civil aviation; aerial adventure and aerobatics; engineering and mechanical endeavour, the achievements of women have informed air travel from its earliest incarnations to its contemporary technological advancement. The Spring Air Show presents stunning aerial displays by a formidable line-up of superbly talented female aviators.

Anna Walker (flying a Supermarine Seafire and Bucker Jungmann aircraft) has been flying for over 30 years. At the age of 13, she started gliding and moved on to power-flying as a tug pilot. After undertaking formation and aerobatic training, Anna took part in aerobatic competitions, in her Bucker Jungmann, winning three out of every four competitions entered. Anna now regularly displays at air shows, flying a Bucker Jungmann, a Beech Staggerwing and a Harvard IV. She is the first woman to fly a Hawker Hurricane since the female ferry pilots of the Air Transport Auxiliary.

Angie Soper (flying a Yak 11) learnt to fly in 1983 at Biggin Hill, becoming a qualified flying instructor at Stapleford in 1987. Gaining a commercial flying licence, she flew Dart Heralds on night freight runs for British Air Ferries between 1989 and 1990. In the 1990s, she became joint owner of a Harvard and began display flying, before acquiring a Yak 11 in 1998. She also operates a Yak 50 and Yak 52, which are both based on her farm strip.

Diana Britten (flying a CAP 232) embarked on a career in competition aerobatics with only 60 hours flying to her credit. From 1981 to 1986, Diana progressed through the levels from Standard to Unlimited, making her World Aerobatic Championship debut in 1986. Diana has flown in six World Championships, five European Championships and became the British Aerobatic Champion in 1995, the first-ever non-commercial pilot, and the first woman, to take the title. She followed that with the title of British Freestyle Champion.

Carolyn Grace (flying the Grace Spitfire and a Stampe) is one of only two female Spitfire pilots in the world. She successfully completed her training in the Grace Spitfire in 1990, and hasn’t looked back since, gaining her Display Authorisation in 1991 and adding Aerobatic and Formation qualifications to that in the following years. Carolyn has perfected a graceful aerobatic display that is immensely popular with air show crowds and Spitfire devotees alike.

Judy Leden MBE (flying a hang glider with microlight tug pilot Shelley Smith) is a World Champion hang glider and para glider. Current holder of four world records, Judy has also successfully completed a long list of daredevil stunts, including flying across the English Channel in a hang glider in 1989, after being released from a hot air balloon 12,000 feet up; and jumping off the edge of Cotopaxi, which at nearly 20,000 feet, is one of the world’s highest active volcanoes. Competitive successes include winning the Women’s World Hang Gliding Championships in 1987 and again in 1991. She has been British Women’s Champion six times and in 1995, she won the Women’s Para Gliding Championship. Judy broke the tandem altitude record for hang glider balloon drops in 1998 and also recently broke the Tandem World Aerotowing Altitude Record, with TV presenter Matt Baker. They were towed aloft by a microlight, reaching 11,020 feet. Judy was awarded the MBE in 1989 for services to hang gliding.

Tricia Neville (displaying the Thruxton Jackaroo G-ANTZ) comes from an RAF family. She began by flying gliders at Booker and in 1990 she learnt to fly on Tiger Moths at Cambridge, where she completed her Private Pilot’s Licence (PPL). In 2002, Tricia gained her Display Authorisation. Although Tricia never originally thought that she would learn to fly herself, she had been an active part of the ground crew for the Barnstormers Flying Circus for over a decade. She has now become an active flying member of Captain Neville’s Flying Circus and takes part in the majority of routines, organising the boys en route. At the Spring Air Show, Tricia will be leading three aircraft in one of the Flying Circus’ most popular extravaganza displays.

Leah Hammond (flying the Auster) started flying at the age of 16. Once qualified, she did a tailwheel conversion on the Auster, before going on to fly a 450hp Stearman and then flew some 90 hours on the Harvard. At the Spring Air Show, she will be displaying the Auster, which she has been displaying since 2009.

Clare Tector (flying the Chilton monoplane) has been flying since 1999, having initially caught the flying bug as an air cadet in the early 1990s. She achieved her PPL just in time to celebrate the Centenary of Powered Flight in late 2003. Since this time, Clare has taken part in basic aerobatic competition and, in the last few years, has displayed various aircraft in shows at Old Warden. In 2010, she was a recipient of the Fiona McKay Flying Bursary through the de Havilland Educational Trust, giving her a chance to learn how to fly the Tiger Moth. Earlier this year, she was invited to become an Apprentice Display Pilot with the Shuttleworth Collection.

Royal Air Force 208 Squadron will be displaying the BAE Systems Hawk, flown by Flight Lieutenant Juliette Fleming.

The flying programme wouldn’t be complete without a display by Jeanne Frazer, IWM Duxford’s Flying Display Director, who will be flying a Piper L4 Cub.

See some of the world’s premier female pilots perform breathtaking flying displays at the Spring Air Show, in a celebration of the women who have courageously led the way in aerial adventure.

Announcing the IWM Duxford Air Show App 2011

Imperial War Museum Duxford is launching an innovative and exciting Smartphone application for the 2011 air show season. Available from mid -May 2011, the App will give real time, up-to-the-minute information about what is flying at our air shows, as the aircraft display.

Available for both Android and iPhone platforms, the App will also include an extensive library of photography, statistics and information about classic aircraft you can see flying in the air shows and where in the Duxford exhibitions you can find out more about them.

As a special introduction, the App will be FREE for a limited time at launch. It will be available for download prior to the Spring Air Show and on the day itself – IWM Duxford will be providing wifi access at the museum for live downloading. This dynamic guide to the Spring Air Show, and our other air shows throughout 2011, is a first for Duxford and demonstrates the Imperial War Museum’s commitment to innovation in new technologies. It aims to be the most innovative air show app around.

For further information go to http://www.iwm.org.uk/duxfordairshows