Click image to go to BFI site for 'Ferry Pilot' newsreel
Our dear friend, Becci, asked me an interesting question the other day. How do girls as young as Megan cope with the job of a Ferry Pilot? Meggie is a teenager, and like a few of the girls can fly a plane but not drive a car. We do have a 'flying grandmother' in our ranks, but most of us are terribly young. You grow up quickly during a war, but the majority of fighter pilots you meet will be in their early twenties. The ATA is rather special - we have a wide age range, from people like Meggie who are practically children through to veterans of previous wars who may be unfit to fly in combat, but boy are they welcome in our ranks.
That helps, I think, when we younger girls have had a bad flight, or have seen a friend not make it back to base. The older pilots at our Ferry Pool are a great source of comfort and advice. Every ferry pilot believes their base is the best, but I really do feel like we have formed a family at ours. We help each other through. Everyone - from Jean the tealady to Miss Gold and Mikki who take care of admin at the Pool - helps us out between flights. And the pilots ... well, sometimes I wonder if I will ever be fortunate enough to fly again with such a remarkable crowd of people.
Perhaps the best way to give you an idea of our work day to day is to look at the BFI Pathe newsreels of the chaps at Aston, or the famous 'Ferry Pilot' film of 1941 (copies are available from the Imperial War Museum). Interestingly, we girls weren't allowed to be shown flying in the film. A few of us just had to stand around admiring the chaps.
As I said before, a plane doesn't know if you are a man or a woman - it only matters how good a pilot you are. We girls cope just as well as the men, and keep each other going. We fly together, live together, play together ... talking of which, I must get a move on. We are going dancing at the Riviera tonight, and I have nothing to wear.
PS If you enjoy the Ferry Pilot clip, I do recommend 'They Flew Alone', the biopic of dear Amy Johnson's life