Born on 1912 Stephanie C. Karpinski (nee Wojtulanis), 92, was an exceptional woman pilot of World War II. Born in 1912 in Warsaw, Poland, she dreamed of becoming a pilot. By 1936 she obtained glider, balloon and motor aircraft pilot  icences and became a parachute-jumping instructor. In 1937 she entered Warsaw Polytechnic where she studied mechanical engineering. At the start of World War II, on September 1, 1939, she was nominated a First Lieutenant, assigned to the General Staff of the Polish Army and flew missions with orders to deliver fuel to the Fighter Brigade defending Warsaw. When the Soviet Army attacked Poland she flew to Rumania and then made her way to France where she worked at the Polish Army Headquarters in Paris. Upon fall of France, in June 1940, she evacuated to Britain where Polish Government, Army, Air Force and Navy were reassembled. In January 1941 she was assigned to Air Transport Auxiliary, as a ferry pilot, where she delivered various aircrafts such as small training, Hurricane and Mustang fighters and two engine Wellington bombers. In all she logged over 1000 hours of flying. At the end of World War II, unable to return to Soviet controlled Poland, she married a Polish Air Force General S.Karpinski and migrated to USA where they settled in Los Angeles. There she attended college and became a computer programmer for Atlantic Richfield Corporation. Retired in 1974 to write a book with her husband on experience of Polish Air Force in World War II. In Los Angeles she belonged to many organizations, amongst them to the Polish Air Force Veterans Association and Silver Wing Fraternity. She was twice awarded Silver Cross of Merit for her services during the war and was honoured at the International Forest of Friendship with a plaque for her aviation achievements. She passed away on February 11, 2005 at the Polish Retirement Home in Los Angeles.


On 28 July 1942 1st/Off Stefania Wojtulanis delivered P7926 from Cowley (presumably from No.1 Civilian Repair Unit) to 39 MU (an aircraft Storage Unit)  at RAF Colerne. Within a fortnight the Spitfire was issued to the Empire Central Flying School where this photo was taken by Charles E. Brown in mid-September. Variation in camuflage colours between the two Spitfires is evident. Note that P7926 features Mk V-style oil cooler, probbably after an engine replacement. Not unusually, the Spitfire’s Movement Card (AM Form 78) makes no mention of conversion to Mk V standard.


Barbara Wojtulanis in the cockpit of Spitfire F.IX EN464 12 February 1943.

Piotr Górka © 2007