Welch, Ann Courtenay (Edmonds) 1917-2002

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WELCH, Ann Courtenay (Edmonds) 1917-2002

OBITUARY NOTICE—See index for CA sketch: Born May 20, 1917, in London, England; died December 5, 2002. Aviator and author. Welch was a major contributor to sport and recreational aviation in England and was highly respected internationally for her flying achievements. She left school at the age of sixteen in order to pursue her interest in flying, obtaining her license at the age of seventeen. From there she pursued more training with the Anglo-German Fellowship in 1937 and in 1939 founded the Surrey Gliding Club. During World War II Welch was part of the Air Transport Auxiliary, a group of amateur pilots who flew planes to airfields for air force pilots. She could fly any aircraft made, and often did, including Spitfires, Wellingtons, and Hurricanes. After the war she became increasingly interested in glider planes and was made manager of the British gliding team in 1948, winning a number of international competitions. In the 1970s, as flying became more and more expensive for amateurs to pursue, she became an advocate of hang-gliding and paragliding. Welch was involved in many flying organizations, including the Fédération Aéronautique International (FAI), the British Gliding Association, for which she served as vice chairperson, the British Women Pilots' Association, and the British Hang-Gliding and Paragliding Association, for which she served as president beginning in 1991. Welch received numerous awards for her aeronautic achievements, which included setting a national glider goal flight record in 1961. These honors include the Jean Lennox-Bird pendant for lifetime achievement from the British Women Pilots' Association, an international silver badge in 1946 and a gold badge in 1969, the Lilienthal Medal from the FAI in 1973, and an FAI Gold Air Medal in 1980; in 1997 she was made an honorary fellow of the Royal Institute of Navigation. Named to the Order of the British Empire in 1966, Welch was the author of several books on aviation, including Glider Flying (1963), Complete Soaring Guide (1986), and the autobiography Happy to Fly (1983).



Welch, Rosanne, Encyclopedia of Women in Aviation and Space, ABC-CLIO (Santa Barbara, CA), 1998.


Daily Telegraph (London, England), December 7, 2002, p. 38.

Times (London, England), December 12, 2002, p. 37.