A blue plaque has been unveiled in Loughton in honour of the first female Concorde pilot.

The memorial was installed at 91 Staples Road, the house where Barbara Harmer was born in 1953.

Barbara Harmer’s family moved to West Sussex when she was five and at the age of 15 she left school to become a hairdresser.

But she decided to become a trainee air traffic controller at Gatwick Airport five years later after admitting she was bored and in search of a challenge. From there Barbara decided she wanted to take to the air herself.

She used £5,000 from her savings and a £10,000 loan to buy flying lessons to earn a pilot’s licence.

Barbara spent the next two years studying by correspondence course for her commercial pilot’s licence and passed in 1982.

Epping Forest Guardian:

The Plaque installed for Barbara Harmer. Credit: Loughton Town Council

She was then offered a post with Genair, a small commuter airline, after submitting more than 100 applications.

But she moved onto British Caledonian in 1984 where she had her first experience of jet airliners. Caledonian merged with British Airways four years later and in 1992 Barbara, who was one of 40 women among 3,000 pilots, was selected for a six-month conversion course for Concorde, the world’s only supersonic passenger airline.

Barbara made history on March 25 1993 when she flew as first female officer on a BA Concorde from London’s Heathrow to New York’s JFK airport.

After Concorde, Barbara retrained to fly Boeing 777s and took redundancy from British Airways in 2009.

She was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in the same year and died at St Wilfrid’s Hospice in Chichester on February 20 in 2011, aged 57.