Mary Ellis, Last WWII Female Spitfire Pilot Dies.

by Daniel Russ on July 29, 2018

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Mary Ellis was a wisp of a woman, about 5 feet tall, and looked “smashing” as one colleague described her in a flight suit. She was part of anew squadron created to help move combat aircraft from the factories to the airfields deployed all over the European continent. So she would for example, fly a new Spitfire from Supermarine to an airfield in Europe where the RAF was operating. Then she returned and flew another back. She flew 400 Spitfires into theatre. She also flew 17 other types, from Wellington bombers to maritime aircraft to trainers. Her unit was called the Air Transit Auxiliary.


Originally British war practice disallowed female combat pilots. This changed in 1940 and thank goodness it did. Just like the Americans who employed female pilots to a fare thee well, so did the Brits.


Mary had learned to fly at an aero club in peacetime, and she racked up 1100 hours flying during ATA missions.


There were many touching tributes, one from the head of the RAF, Air Chief Marshal Sir Stephen Hillier. He tweeted: “Another terrible loss. Mary Ellis, pioneering female aviator, Air Transport Auxiliary veteran, an inspiration to generations. I’ll always remember her proudly reminding us at RAF100 events that she was older than the RAF itself! RIP Mary.”

Author and RAF navigator John Nichol published this: “Very sad to hear that WW2 ATA pilot Mary Ellis has died aged 101. A truly remarkable lady, she flew 400 Spitfires & 76 different types of aircraft during WW2. Another giant leaves us to join her heroic friends in Blue Skies. Rest in peace Mary; you truly deserve it. Thank you.”


(Not sure if 76 types is correct)


She was 99.





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