Joan Meakin, Glider Pilot

First off, let me say that a LOT of research went into this project. Joan is a hard woman to find, and unfortunately her memory is fading. I’m publishing this to keep her alive. In 1977, CW wrote her as “one of the ever disappearing links with the gliding of the 1930s”.

ANY information you can give beyond what is below is most helpful.

Joan Meakin

Miss Joan Meakin (January 7, 1910 – November 11, 1977 born Marjorie Joan) was the first female glider pilot to fly over the English Channel on April 5, 1934, to which she said it was “safer than playing hockey” in a BBC Newscast. Her feat was publicized internationally in places such as Australia and Singapore. She was also the only woman flyer ever to perform in Alan Cobham’s Flying Circus (she was called “Titian-haired”).

Joan Meakin was the daughter of Henry James Meakin (1882-1936) and Louisa Margaret Spurrier. While interviewed by The Gazette in 1958, she said she was inspired by Peter Pan. One of her brothers, Peter Anthony Meakin, was a Flight-Cadet in the RAF and while training, crashed his airplane at the RAF Cadet College in Cranwell on April 26, 1928. He died the next day on April 27 (Flight Magazine, May 3, 1928). Due to the tragedy her family didn’t want her to take up flying but she was persistent. In an interview through the Australian Press Association her father said, “After she had failed three times to procure a flying license I promised to give her a £150 glider if she were the first girl to glide over the channel. She has crashed once from a height of 50ft. in three years of gliding.”

She married Ronald Price, a wingwalker, and assistant general manager of Sir Alan Combham’s Flying Circus display.

  • January 7, 1910 – Joan Meakin is born
  • 1931 – Joan starts gliding. With a fellow member of the London Aeroplane Club, Ruth Nicholson, they decide to join Wasserkuppe.
  • February 7, 1931 – Joan receives her Certificate from the Royal Aircraft Establishment Aero Club (9707) with the Avro Avian 75 hp Cirrus II.
  • November, 1933 – Joan Meakin (member of London Gliding Club) completes Herr Wolf Hirth’s course at Homberg in Germany with three loops.
  • April 3, 1934 – Joan was towed 75 miles to Ostend and reached Lympne in 1 hour 20 minutes. She crossed the Channel at 3,000 ft and looped four times after disconnect in Lympne before landing.
  • April 4-6, 1934 – Joan was towed from Ostend to Lympne at 2000 ft across the Channel and performed three loops. From Lympne to Heston she looped seven times before landing.
  • June 16, 1934 – Joan Meakin with a glider towed at a height of 4,500 feet above Bristol airport broke the loop record made by Faur Hanna Heritsch’s of 15 (Joan’s was 18 loops).
  • May, 1934 – Joan Meakin was towed in a Mongoose Avro.
  • July, 1934 – Joan accomplished a 50-mile glide from Bristol to Shrewsbury in 1.5 hours.
  • 1935 – Joan gets engaged to Ronald D. Price, gets married (Between July and September in Surrey), and changes her last name.
  • 1935 – Joan takes part in Sir Alan Cobham’s Air Circus using a Rhonbussard. She traded up for a Rhonbussard BGA 337 which was build by Schliechers in 1937.
  • 1936 – Joan joins the London Gliding Club and teaches her husband to fly.
  • 1936 – Joan meets Ernst Udet, an Air Force General who let her gly his Roensperber D-Kommendant.
  • April, 1936 – Joan Price performed in a Wolf glider where she looped at made dives at 40-50 mph and did a few stalled turns. The glider was the first Wolf made by the factory called “Youth”. She has special radio equipment built-in for use.
  • July 12, 1937 – Joan Price flew a King Kite 57 miles and landed at a tiny Bavarian village called Schwurbitz, The villages regaled her with a pork cutlet and twelve large potatoes, and then held a dance in her honor.
  • July 4, 1938 – Joan beats the British women’s long-distance soaring record with 76 miles at 6,000 feet from Reigate to Frinton-on_sea on the East Anglican coast. She landed beside a golf course.
  • November 12, 1938 – Joan (instructor at the Surrey Gliding Club) along with Ann Edmonds and R.H. Shaw tried out the Primary.
  • May 7, 1939 – Joan Price’s Bussard is shown through the Surrey Gliding Club with a new paint job – ivory with a flame streak.
  • WWII – Ronald Price is employed at Liverpool and Joan gives birth to a daughter to the sound of air raid sirens.
  • Becomes an instructor at the Surrey Gliding Club at Reigate, founded by Mrs. Ann Douglas
  • Her husband is employed on Croydon aerodrome
  • 1957 – Joan Price visits the Nationals at Lasham with Peter Wills (on the British team with her for the first International Competition held in 1937 in Wasserkupe) and his daughter Vanessa.
  • 1973 – Joan attended the first International Meeting of the Vintage Glider Club of Great Britain at Husbands Bosworth.