HomeSearchContact UsSite Map

Air Transport Auxiliary


Civilian pilots played an active part in the fight against the Axis forces, not more so than the Air Transport Auxiliary (ATA) men and women aircraft ferry pilots.This page is dedicated to their dedication and bravery. 

The Air Transport Auxiliary

In 1939, the pre-war Civilian Air Guard was reformed under Gerard d'Erlanger as the Air Transport Auxiliary. In September 1939 it consisted of 22 men and women pilots, and eventually built up to 16 Ferry Pools.

The ATA functioned as an ferry service, moving aircraft form their factories to the airfields of the RAF and the Fleet Air Arm. By the early part of 1940, the women pilots numbered 26, throughout the war the women's Ferry Pool at Hamble delivered spitfires from various factories as well as two and four engined aircraft.  By September 1941, the ATA pilots were ferrying all types of operational aircraft. By the end of the war they had delivered 309,011 aircraft of more than 200 types including swordfish, albacore, sea otter, walrus, spitfires, flying fortresses and lancasters

The wartime strength of the ATA was 1,152 men and 600 women including 166 pilots and flight engineers. The women pilots peformed exactly the same duties as the men, and had equal pay and right from late 1943. Many American pilots, men and women, cmae over the "Pond" to join the ATA, and did an invaluable job.

The ATA lost 174 people in the war, among them the famous pioneer Amy Johnson CBE, she died on 6th January 1941 when the Oxford she was ferrying crashed in the Thames Estuary. 

Air Transport Auxiliary Association (2001)
E Viles, 40 Goldcrest Road, Chipping Sodbury, Bristol, BS17 6XG, ENGLAND
Tel +44 01454 319175

Membership open to former ATA air and groundcrew. 

Just some of those who were mentioned or lost during Fleet Air Arm duties:


Names of a few 
Air Transport Auxiliary (ATA) women aircraft ferry pilots


F/Capt Miss PM Bennett ATA

Flying Barracuda DR202 on ATA ferry from Eastleigh, engine overheating, required to force land at Halfpenny Green, 8.6.1945

S/O Miss J Broad ATA 

Flying accident with Barracuda P9787

F/O Miss Cholmondley (Australian ATA) 

12FP Ferry, Whilst flying Swordfish NF 300 engine trouble, force landed safely at Speke.

T/O Miss MO Frost ATA

Whilst starting up Barracuda RJ792 in the morning at Wigtown ferrying from Dunino, 3 prop blades found chipped.

T/O Miss S Hart ATA

ATA Sherburn, whilst flying Barracuda RK358, undercarriage would not retract - accident, 29.6.1945

T/O Miss Barbara Lankhear ATA (New Zealand

Flew Barracuda BP 993. This aircraft was painted with the name "Te Rauparaha" and four vertical bombs over 4 swastikas. 12.9.1945 

F/O Miss CR Leathart ATA 

15FPP Hamble ferry, whilst flying Skua L3020, port leg of Skua collapsed landing on nose at Lee-on-Solent.

T/O Miss MEA Powys ATA

Accident whilst flying Supermarine Spitfire NN192

Cdt Miss PM Provis ATA

Flying Swordfish NF 369 4FP ferry, force landed undershot airfield, hit embankment avoiding hangar and parked aircraft. Turnberry.

T/O Mrs MJ Ratcliffe ATA

12 FP ferry, flying Barracuda ME237 hydraulic leak, landed safely at Wroughton

S/O Mrs M Rose ATA 

Flying Swordfish NF 262 to Worthy Down, problems at 200ft,  force-landed in field ran into hedge overturned 13.5.1944

T/O Miss AM Russell ATA 

Okay after accident flying Supermarine Sea Otter JN252

T/O Miss KM Stanley-Smith ATA 

5(T) FR Thame Ferry, flying Swordfish NS133 port tyre burst taxying Hawarden.

 F/O Miss G Stevenson (USA) ATA 

Okay after accident flying Supermarine Walrus L2184.






Amy Mollison (nee Johnson) graduated from the University of Sheffield in 1926 and began work as a secretary in London. While in London she became a member of the London Aeroplane Club, gaining her pilot's license in 1928. She was also the first British woman granted an aircraft engineer's license. 

In 1929 she decided to make a reputation for herself by
attempting a long distance flight no woman had ever tried before. She chose to fly to Australia so she would not have to pilot over a large expanse of ocean.  Lord Wakefield to front half of the expense for her craft, a De Havilland Gipsy Moth named "Jason", her father paid for the other half.  After 85 hours of solo flight and a previous cross country flight record of 147 miles she left for Darwin, Australia on 5 May, 1930.  Her trip took 19 days and she became and instant celebrity, and she was dubbed "Queen of the Air" by the British press. 

Thereafter, she continued making record flights, including a failed attempt to Peking in 1931 and with Jack Humphries as a copilot again in 1931 set a speed record from London to Tokyo in ten days. In 1932 she broke the record for solo flight to Cape Town, South Africa.

Amy Johnston joined the Air Transport Auxiliary in 1939. On 5 January 1941, while on a flying mission for the Air Ministry from Blackpool to Oxford Amy overshot her destination by 100 miles.  She ditched in the Thames Estuary after running out of fuel, and although a convoy trawler tried to rescue her, she drowned.


Amy is remembered in many ways, one of which is the British Women Pilot's Association award -- an annual Amy Johnson Memorial Trust Scholarship to help   outstanding women pilots further their careers.


Created: 3-04-2001, Last Modified 3-04-2005


Return to Home Page


This page is published by Fleet Air Arm Archive and is updated regularly.
2000-2005 All rights reserved for all information created for or on behalf of the Fleet Air Arm Archive
Contact details