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June 13, 2012 / garyalex

Cover Girl Pilot

Maureen Popp (nee Dunlop) died recently, aged 91. She was best-known locally for running the Milla Lauqen stud, near the Pulham roundabout, with pure-bred Arab horses.

In wartime she distinguished herself in the Air Transport Auxiliary. In 1944 she was one of the prettiest girls ever to grace the cover of Picture Post magazine.
Her father, Eric Chase Dunlop, was an Australian who worked in Patagonia managing farms producing Merino sheep.
In World War One he served as a Captain in the Royal Field Artillery. He was wounded, married his nurse and took her back to live in the Argentine where they had three children..
Maureen Adele Chase Dunlop was born on 26 October 1920 in Quilmes, province of Buenos Aires, Argentina. She held joint British and Argentine nationalities. She attended St Hilda’s College, an English school in Hurlingham (Buenos Aires) for a very short period but for the majority of her education she had a governess in Patagonia.
She lied about her age so that she could learn to fly. When war broke out she returned to Britain to help ferry aeroplanes from factory to airfield.

Maureen joined the Air Transport Auxiliary on 15 April 1942 and left on 30 November 1945. During her time in the ATA she accumulated over 800 flight hours. By the time she left she had flown 28 different single engine and 10 multi engine aircraft types. These included Spitfire, Hurricane, Hawker Typhoon, Hawker Tempest, Avro Anson, Mustang, Bristol Blenheim, de Havilland Mosquito, Vickers Wellington and Avro Lancaster.

Back in South America she married retired Romanian diplomat Serban de Popp. She continued to fly commercially and to ride horses. She took part in a ride across the Andes in a record time which still stood many years later.

The Popps came to England in 1973 and created the stud that took its name from the Patagonian words for ‘shining lake’.

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