99-year-old WWII veteran flies to raise money for charity

For a pilot, thousands of feet high in the sky is like a second home and the temptation to soar at the same heights continues to beckon you even when you are past your peak. This is even more true for fighter pilots who have spent their lives protecting the sovereignty of their country from above. And it was probably the same call for Kate Orchard, 99, who entered the cockpit after years. The World War veteran took to the skies once again and even now it was for a worthy cause as she was raising money for charity.

Kate Orchard, who resides in Cornwall, served in the Royal Air Force during the Second World War. As a plotter, she participated in the fight against the Nazis from 1941 to 1945, reporting that the jets should be shot down. During 24 shifts in India, Orchard was also tasked with determining whether aerial communications were friendly or hostile. After identifying whether an aircraft was hostile or not, it transmitted the information to the Royal Air Force. Pilots and soldiers were able to determine which planes to shoot down using this information.

Orchard wanted to generate funds for a military charity just a week before his 100th birthday. So, while her family watched from the ground, she chose to learn how to fly a glider. She took off from RNAS Culdrose, near Helston, on a holiday Monday, with the Seahawk Gliding Club, and, under the pilot’s instructions, performed a faultless flight. As she resumed her flight, she was raising funds for “Help for Heroes”.

“I believe passionately that it is very important that all ex-servicemen be taken care of. Especially those who are unlucky enough to have physical or psychological injuries,” she told the BBC.

Orchard was born into a family of 13 Anglo-Indian siblings. Her father worked as a chief telegraph inspector on Indian Railways when she was a child. Orchard and two of her sisters volunteered for the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force when it was established in India in 1941. She rose through the ranks to Warrant Officer First Class, earning the Service and Indian Service Medals .

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