Aviation Historian 22
R.Riding, A.Stephenson - What a woman! Janet Ferguson: ferry pilot extraordinare
Another day in the office - a typical view from the cockpit of a Britten-Norman Islander, on this occasion while en route from Whitehorse in Canada’s Yukon to Anchorage, Alaska, in 1977. Continuing the Norman connection, Janet ferried the Norman Aeroplane Company’s first production NAC-6 Field­master from Cardiff to Singapore in January 1988.
Janet ferried numerous Islanders and examples of its military variant, the Defender, during her flying career. Here she finds time for a quick photograph while preparing to deliver Defender G-BIUC from Fairoaks to Gaborone in Botswana. On arrival, the aircraft would be given the serial OA-6 and be handed over to the Botswana Defence Force Air Wing.
Janet Ferguson and Denham Flying Club’s chief flying instructor Derek "Wilbur" Wright in Miles M.14A Hawk Trainer G-AFBS over the Thames in 1951.
It was at Denham that Janet worked initially as a secretary, also helping with refuelling, as seen here in 1952, before becoming an assistant flying instructor, and ultimately fully-rated instructor.
In 1961 Janet moved to the USA and the following year participated in the All-Woman Transcontinental Air Race (aka “Powder Puff Derby”) in Aeronca 7EC Champion N7479B. Janet also joined the Ninety Nines, the international organisation for women pilots, helping to establish a UK branch which included Diana Barnato Walker, Sheila Scott, Joan Hughes, Betty Cones, Yvonne Pope, Elizabeth Overbury, Beryl Sanders and Freydis Sharland.
All in a day’s work - Janet Ferguson checks the paperwork for Beagle 206 G-AVCH while ferrying the aircraft from Shoreham to Brisbane, Queensland, for its new owner, the Royal Flying Doctor Service, in July 1967. The delivery pilot has not only to be adaptable enough to fly numerous types, but also have the resourcefulness to deal with the inevitable hold-ups and headaches that come with the job.
Janet and her longtime work colleague and mentor Peter Nock at the Beechcraft factory at Wichita, Kansas, preparing to make the delivery flight of Queen Air 80 G-ASKM to the UK in the summer of 1963. Nock, the founder of West London Air Charter Ltd, and Ferguson would work together for more than three decades.
In July 1959 Janet participated in the Daily Mail Bleriot Anniversary Race, cycling from Marble Arch in central London to Croydon, where she hopped into the Tiger Club’s Druine Turbulent G-APTZ, as seen here.
In June 1981 Janet was selected to be part of a delivery team ferrying three Grumman AgCat crop-sprayers from Wickenby, Lincolnshire, to Algeria. Whether delivering a primitive single-engined agricultural biplane or a state-of-the-art modern light twin, Janet displayed the adaptability and quick thinking required to deal with any situation that might - and often did - arise.