Carol Vorderman shares inspirational reason why her plane is called ‘Mildred’

Bristol-based TV and radio star Carol Vorderman has marked International Women’s Day by sharing the story of the woman who inspired her the most in life – and who she named her own plane after.

The Welsh presenter and pilot has always called her first little plane ‘Mildred’, and even admitted that she’ll talk to it to encourage it along as she takes to the sky. But now, in a post on Instagram, the TV star, who lives in Clifton, shared why she called the plane Mildred, and the incredible story of the woman that inspired her.

Vorders said the plane is named after Mildred Bruce, who was one of the early 20th century’s pioneering female adventurer and daredevil. Born in 1895, she was the first woman to be fined for speeding – she was caught on her brother’s motorbike at just 14 years old.

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“She was a single parent by the age of 20, which back then was considered to be shameful, but she went on to become a champion rally driver, coming fourth in the Monte Carlo rally and setting world records for the 24-hour challenge. She drove non stop and solo for 24 hours averaging a speed of 89mph. Extraordinary,” explained Vorders.

But it was when, in her mid-30s that she started flying, that her inspirational story gained its wings.

“In 1930 she bought a small plane, took flying lessons and after only ever flying a few miles alone from her home airfield in England she took off around the world,” explained Carol. “Brave and fearless Mildred crashed and had adventures only you and I could dream of….after fixing her aircraft she flew on, was the first woman to fly to Japan.

Adventurer Mildred Bruce
Adventurer Mildred Bruce

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“When she encountered oceans she folded up the wings of her little plane and put it onto a cruise liner. She always flew with a string of pearls around her neck, I loved that about her. She flew across America and buzzed the Empire State Building so many times they arrested her on landing. Undeterred, she flew on to the UK. This is all before aircraft were built which had the capacity for solo flight across the oceans,” she added.

It was Mildred who inspired Carol Vorderman to get into the skies in the first place, and her first plane was named after her. Vorders once had designs to emulate her epic journey and fly around the world herself, but personal circumstances put paid to that challenge.

“After being part of a flying circus, she became a businesswoman and set up an airline of 30 Dragons,” added Carol. “She was the first airline to employ flight attendants. She partied hard at the Dorchester – I did that bit for 5 years myself!. During the second world war, she used her planes for transport and set up a company in South Wales which serviced RAF aircraft.

Carol Vorderman with her plane 'Mildred'
Carol Vorderman with her plane ‘Mildred’
(Image: Wales Online)

“This woman was something else. When I learned about her and researched her life, I could only call my plane Mildred after her. I came to flying late in life but have loved it nonetheless.

“Times have changed since Mildred, or even I, was growing up. Circumstances have improved massively for women BUT young women still need support & as Ambassador for The Prince’s Trust for many years now, I know we are there for them,” she added.

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