Chilean pilot Margot Duhalde, 96, poses during an interview with AFP in Santiago on August 08, 2017.
/ AFP / Martin BERNETTI
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SANTIAGO: Margot Duhalde lies awake scared when she remembers what she was doing over 70 years ago: flying fighter planes without any radar over England in World War II – and sometimes crashing. A country girl from southern Chile, of French Basque ancestry, she became her country's first female pilot – and the only woman aviator to join the Free French Forces of General Charles de Gaulle's government in exile.Duhalde convinced her parents to let her leave her country home in Rio Bueno aged just 16 and go to Santiago to train as a pilot.She lied about her age and enrolled in the Santiago flying school with the support of veteran French pilot Cesar Copetta.France's Armed Forces Historical Review has recorded that Duhalde "piloted more than 1,500 British or American aircraft of every type: fighters, bombers, transports and training aircraft".During her wartime service, she had about 10 plane accidents that nearly killed her.
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