Following a chance trial flying lesson in 1980, Diana found her true passion in life, and specifically the wonderful world of aerobatics. The following year - with a mere 60 hours of flying to her credit - she bravely embarked on a new career in competition aerobatics.


Over the next five years, Diana progressed from the basic manoeuvres of Standard level, right through to Unlimited contests, where complex multi-figure manoeuvres and negative 'G' are the order of the day.

She competed as often as time allowed in the UK and France, initially in the CAP 10B two-seat trainer, and then in the more capable single-seat CAP 21.

Extra 230 G-DIAN

In 1986, having held a Private Pilot's Licence for just six years, Diana revived the status of British women in the sphere of international aerobatics by being the first since 1970 to represent her country at a World Championship - when it was held in the UK at South Cerney. She went on to fly as a member of the British Team at both European and World contests for another ten years, four of which as team captain, competing additionally as an individual in the Spanish and Argentine Masters.

Extra 230 G-EXTR

Her campaign of competitive flying also extended to Eastern Europe and North America, and she gained numerous awards en-route. Solo navigation on the many long transit flights - in the days before GPS and with no aids other than a magnetic compass - she freely admits were often just as challenging as the contests themselves!

Top-level competition flying, by its very nature, imposes extremely high 'G'-forces, with figures of +8 or -7 being by no means unusual. To cope with these demands, Diana upgraded her aircraft; first to an Extra 230 and then to the phenomenal Extra 260. The latter was specially built for her in 1991, and due to the power-to-weight ratio of its welded steel/carbon-fibre construction and Monty Barratt-tuned 6 cylinder engine, it remains a competitive aircraft to this day.

Nationals winner at Sywell in 1995

In 1995, Diana became the first woman in history to claim the title of British Aerobatic Champion.

She has also won the British Freestyle Championship, Jean Lennox-Bird Trophy and Brabazon Cup.

The European Pilots' Federation awarded her 'Woman of the Year', and she also holds a coveted Royal Aero Club Silver Medal.

Diana was awarded an MBE in the 2021 New Year's Honour List for services to Aerobatics and to Charity.

Flying biography

Diana with some of her trophies

1980Gained PPL within 40 hours.
1981First aerobatic competition - France, placed 1st lady (second solo flight in the CAP 10b).
1982First aerobatic competition in England, CAP 10b.
1983/85Campaigned in France, Holland and England in her own CAP 10b, G-BKUC, and brought home many trophies.
1985Moved onto single seater CAP 21, G-BLZZ, gained a place in the British National Team.
1986Competed in the '86 WAC - South Cerney, England. First British lady to fly in a World Championship since Frances McRae in 1970. CAP 21.
1987British Team - European Championships - Speichersdorf, Germany. CAP 21.
1988British Team - World Aerobatic Championships - Red Deer, Canada. Extra 230 G-DIAN.
1989Sole British pilot to compete in European Championships - Bekescaba, Hungary. Extra 230.
1990British Team - World Aerobatic Championships - Yverdon, Switzerland. Extra 230.
 Sole British pilot to compete in the Spanish Masters Aerobatic Championship - Ocana, Spain. Extra 230.
1991Sole British pilot to compete in the Argentine Masters Aerobatic Championship. Pitts S1T/S2B.
 British Team - European Championships - Muret, France. Extra 260 G-EXTR.
1992British Team - World Aerobatic Championships - Le Havre, France. Extra 260.
1993British Team - European Championships - Grossetto, Italy. Extra 260.
1994British Team - World Aerobatic Championships - Debrecen, Hungary. Extra 260.
1995British Team - European Championships - Hradec Kralove, Czech Republic. Extra 260.
 OVERALL BRITISH AEROBATIC CHAMPION and the Neil Williams Trophy - Sywell. Extra 260.
1996British Team - World Aerobatic Championships - Oklahoma, USA. Extra 300S.

Diana's other achievements include: