Noor Inayat Khan was born in Moscow in 1914 to an American poetess mother and an Indian Sufi teacher father.
A British woman pilot has used her scholarship to undertake a special flying mission to reenact the deadly mission carried out by British Indian spy Noor Inayat Khan behind enemy lines during World War II. Fiona Smith, who won the British Women Pilots Association (BWPA) Scholarship 2021, decided to link it with a ‘Special Operations Executive’ (SOE).
In this scholarship, aviation enthusiasts were invited to carry out a ‘special mission’. Noor Inayat Khan, a descendant of Tipu Sultan, who ruled Mysore in the 18th century, was an SOE agent who was airlifted to a field in Nazi-occupied France to provide secret intelligence.
Smith states that being located somewhere near the city of Angers, I was encouraged to find that there was a well-served airfield nearby, and a quick calculation showed that it could be reached from London in under a day. Regarding his recent flying mission, he said that my mission was clear. Flying from the south of England to Angers, laying a wreath for Noir, and flying back. Our actual flight coincides with the 80th year of his (Khan’s) departure from England.
Noor Inayat Khan was born in Moscow in 1914 to an American poetess mother and an Indian Sufi teacher father. When World War II began, Noor’s family returned to England and, despite her Sufi and pacifist views, she joined the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force in 1940, determined to fight fascism.
He was flown to France in a Lysander aircraft in June 1943 from a Royal Air Force (RAF) base near Angers to land in a field. Eighty years after the event, a female pilot was inspired to repeat that journey. The British Indian spy was posthumously awarded the George Cross of Britain and the ‘Croix de Guerre’ (Military Cross) of France. Noor Inayat Khan never returned from that mission and was executed in September 1944 at the Dachau concentration camp in Germany.