Suffolk

Edith Cook: Plans on show in Ipswich for Britain's first female pilot statue

Artist's impression of statue to Edith Cook Image copyright Geoff Pleasance
Image caption Sketches of the proposed sculpture of Edith Cook are on show in Ipswich

Aviation enthusiasts are trying to raise funds to pay for a statue in honour of Britain's first female pilot in her hometown of Ipswich, Suffolk.

Edith Cook, born in 1878, was an exhibition parachutist who took her first flight in France in January 1910.

Outline permission for a memorial on Fore Street was granted last year.

Drawings of the proposed bronze sculpture are on show in the town and an appeal has been launched to raise £60,000 to pay for it.

Suffolk Aviation Heritage Group has been campaigning for public recognition of Cook's achievements since 2007.

Bleriot's pupil

In its planning application for a statue, the group said: "Only six months after Louis Bleriot had flown the English Channel, Edith, as Miss Spencer Kavanagh, was reported as Britain's first female pilot."

Image copyright (C) British Broadcasting Corporation
Image caption Edith Cook was at the "forefront of aviation" in the early 20th Century

She made her first flight as a pupil of Bleriot - the first person to fly across the English Channel in 1909 - at his flying school in Pau, southern France.

Cook had planned to cross the North Channel but died in a parachuting accident in Coventry in July 1910, aged 31.

"Her significance in aviation history has been sadly overlooked," the group said.

Two years ago its members helped dedicate a headstone on her previously unmarked grave in Coventry.

Image copyright Ipswich Boro Council
Image caption A plaque in Ipswich marks the birthplace of aviator Edith Cook

Aviation artist Geoff Pleasance has created a number of sketches showing how the new memorial might look, which are on show at Ipswich Borough Council's tourist information office.

Subject to funds being raised, the statue will be created by Suffolk sculptor Sean Hedges-Quinn who was also responsible for the town's statues of Sir Alf Ramsey and Sir Bobby Robson.

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