The Spitfire Women of WWII
The Air Transport Auxiliary (ATA) was a British WWII civilian organisation that ferried new repaired and damaged military aircraft between UK factories, Maintenance Units, scrap yards, and active service squadrons and airfields (but not to aircraft carriers). They also flew service personnel on urgent duty from one place to another and performed air ambulance work. The organisation recruited pilots who were considered to be unsuitable for reasons of age or fitness for either the Royal Air Force or the Fleet Air Arm (therefore humorously referred to as 'Ancient and Tattered Airmen'), pilots from neutral countries and, notably, women pilots. In late 1939 Commander Pauline Gower MBE was given the task of organising the women's section of the ATA. There were 166 women pilots (one in eight of the entire service) who volunteered from Britain, the Commonwealth (Canada, New Zealand and South Africa), United States, the Netherlands, Poland and one from Chile. Fifteen lost their lives in the air including the British pioneer aviatrix Amy Johnson.