Air Transport Auxiliary

The Air Transport Auxiliary, or ATA, was a civilian organisation that was set up in WWII. The idea was to replace R.A.F pilots from having to leave active duty to fly new planes from the factories and assembly plants, damaged or repaired planes to and from airbases, and to maintenance units and scrap yards. If required the ATA would also fly service personnel on urgent duties.

The ATA began in February 1940 and went on until November 1945. At the height of its operations there were 16 ferry pools and 2 training units with 1,152 male pilots and 168 women pilots.

Initially these pilots flew with guns unloaded. However, after encounters with enemy aircraft for which they couldn't fight back the planes were flown with loaded guns. For navigation they mostly used ordinary road maps and looked out for land marks to guide them to their destination.

All the pilots had to go through training to enable them to fly every type of aircraft from the Spitfire to the Lancaster bombers, a total of 147 different types. During WWII the ATA delivered more than 309,00 aircraft. In all 174 pilots, men and women, were killed flying for the ATA.

It was the first time in the U.K that men and women received the same pay for doing the same job.


A  female ferry pilot .

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