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Woman Flies Grandpa’s WW2 Plane After Finding It On Other Side Of World

“We were doing barrel rolls, loops and going upside down – I was proud I didn’t throw up! “

 

Courtney Dohnt, 38, was never able to meet her grandfather Charles Bryce Watson who fought alongside the British in a Hawker Hurricane. The plane – called Pegs after his beloved wife Peggy – was shot down during a raid on German-occupied Dieppe, France, in August 1942. Charles was captured as a prisoner of war for four years and his plane sank – but his stories lived on through Courtney’s family. A photo of him alongside the plane had a prominent place in their home in Geelong, Victoria, Australia.

World War Two II pilots in the Royal Air Force get ready to take off from the Libyan airport on May 11, 1941. Courtney Dohnt’s grandfather, Charles, served on the RAF squadron no. 174. VIA DE AGOSTINI PICTURE LIBRARY 

His family heard about a Hawker Hurricane being restored in Maidenhead, Berkshire, and got in touch in a bid to learn more about the plane. They were astonished when they discovered restorers had coincidentally used Charles ‘Pegs’ tag on the paintwork, along with the kangaroo logo from his original.

Courtney flew to the UK from Australia to have a flight in the incredible plane, on October 17, which is used for commemorative flights. She replicated the photo taken during the war of Charles, who died of a heart attack in 1963.

Courtney said, “I was so excited when I heard about the plane. I jumped at the chance to see it.

 

 

“I went to visit as I was over in the UK for a wedding and I couldn’t quite believe it.

“It was so overwhelming to be able to see that plane, with ‘Pegs’ on the side for my grandmother, just like in the photo of Charles.

“That picture was on our wall in our home as I grew up so this experience hit me like a tonne of bricks.”

Courtney, who visited the UK with her husband Ross Dohnt, 38, grew up hearing stories of Charles’ impressive war efforts. Australian-born Charles was part of RAF Squadron no. 174 based at RAF Manston in northeast Kent during the Second World War, fighting alongside the Allied Forces.

His original Hurricane, Pegs, also featured an image of a boxing kangaroo to represent his Australian background but was shot down. Charles never had the chance to say his goodbyes to Pegs (the plane) before his death in 1963.

British WW2 navigational computer for calculating height corrections, Nero Lemania stopwatch, used by RAF pilots during World War II. Materials that was used by Courtney’s grandfather, Charles, during his time in the Royal Air Force. VIA ARTERRA 

But the picture of Charles standing next to Pegs was a permanent feature in Courtney’s home – like a part of the family – and was always admired by his real-life widow Peggy. So when Courtney heard of a Hawker Hurricane being restored back in the UK, it was an opportunity for her to learn a bit more about her grandfather. She got in touch with the restoration company, Hurricane Heritage, and learned they had found an identical model to her grandfather’s.

Courtney said they chose his plane because they loved the imagery of the boxing kangaroo and name ‘Pegs’ – but doesn’t know where they found photos to copy.

She also said, “I didn’t even expect a response. I’m just a random person on the other side of the world reaching out, but they were thrilled to hear from me.

“I actually only expected to go in and look at it – I jumped at the chance.

When Courtney arrived to see the WW2 plane they offered to take her out for a spin. She said, “A pilot flew me out and a spitfire pilot even flew out with us in formation. He flew beside us like cat and mouse.

“We were doing barrel rolls, loops and going upside down – I was proud I didn’t throw up!

“But it was the most amazing experience as soon as I got there and saw ‘Pegs’ on the side.

“I got to not only see but fly in my grandfather’s RAF plane – how many people get the chance to do that?!”

 

Produced in association with SWNS Talker.

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