The 2004 Reunion took place on Thursday 8 July and Polly Vacher MBE was our Guest of Honour (sitting on the Commandant's right). The Reunion followed the normal format, with the AGM (Minutes to be published later) and, due to poor weather, only a limited flying display in the afternoon. The dinner was combined with the graduation of No 402 Flying Instructors Course and the award of the CFS Trophies. Following the traditional speeches about their graduating students by the squadron commanders, our guest of honour gave us a facinating insight into her experiences in aviation. Her achievements to date are described beneath.
Polly Mary Anne Vacher was born in Oxfordshire in 1944. A gifted musician, she qualified as a physiotherapist and worked in the field umil 1968. She subsequently worked as a music teacher and became involved in fund raising for the disabled.
Her search for challenges led her to attempt a tandem skydive to raise money at the age of 45. 245 jumps later she was hooked on air sports and obtained her private pilots licence in 1994. She moved with her husband shortly afterwards to Australia. There she promptly flew him around the circumference of Australia, up the middle to Ayres Rock and Alice Springs and back across the Simpson Desert. For a newly qualified pilot this was an extraordinary feat. They landed on dirt strips in the real outback, and on an island in the middle of the crocodile-infested Gulf of Carpenteria.
In 1997 she flew solo in a single engine Piper Dakota across the North Atlantic. Meeting her husband in America , they flew together around the periphery of the United States and Canada. She then flew back across the Atlantic solo, losing the lighting on her primary instruments half way. In 2001 she flew solo around the World in the same Piper Dakota. This included a sixteen hour crossing from Hawaii to California. Her flights raised money for disabled flying scholarships. She was awarded the MBE for her efforts.
Polly is now due to depart again for another solo circumnavigation of the world in her trusty Dakota, this time from pole to pole and again is rasing money for the charity 'Flying Scholarships for the Disabled. Her new adventure can be followed on www.worldwings.org.
She is married with three grown up sons.