Stuff that matters

An Australian woman got the ride of a lifetime after discovering a replica of her grandfather’s World War II plane—and traveling 9,000 miles to recreate her favorite photo.

Courtney Dohnt was never able to meet her Australian grandfather who fought alongside the Brits and Allied Forces, flying in a Hawker Hurricane.

The plane—called Pegs after his beloved wife Peggy—was shot down during a raid on German-occupied territory in 1942. Her grandfather, Charles Bryce Watson, survived, but passed away twenty years before Courtney was born.

His stories lived on through Courtney’s family, and a photo of him alongside the plane had a prominent place in their home Down Under in Geelong, Victoria.

They heard about a Hawker Hurricane being restored in Berkshire, England and got in touch in a bid to learn more about the plane.

They were astonished when they discovered restorers had coincidently used the ‘Pegs’ tag on the paintwork, along with the kangaroo logo from his original model.

“I was so excited when I heard about the plane. I jumped at the chance to see it,” said the 38-year-old. “That picture was on our wall at home as I grew up so this experience hit me like a ton of bricks.”

Courtney flew to the UK this month to see the plane, which is used for commemorative flights in the UK, and cleverly recreated her favorite photo.

“It was so overwhelming to be able to see that plane, with ‘Pegs’ painted on the side for my grandmother, just like in the photo of Charles.”

The restoration company, Hurricane Heritage, told her the plane was an identical model to her grandfather’s, which featured an image of a boxing kangaroo to represent his Australian background. It was part of the RAF Squadron no. 174 and flew out of Manston in northeast Kent.

“They were thrilled to hear from me,” Courtney told SWNS news agency.

She only expected to be able to view the plane and take her photos, but when she got there, to her amazement, they offered to take her up in Pegs 2.0.

“I jumped at the chance,” Courtney said.

“A pilot flew me out, and a spitfire pilot even flew out with us in formation. He flew beside us like cat and mouse.

“We were doing barrel rolls, loops and going upside down!”

“But it was the most amazing experience as soon as I got there and saw ‘Pegs’ on the side.

“I got to not only see but fly in my grandfather’s RAF plane—how many people get the chance to do that?!”