The incredible women of the Air Transport Auxiliary

‘I am the pilot’! Mary Ellis’s is just one of the incredible stories of the Spitfire Girls. To mark International Women’s Day, David Duker tells Mary’s story, as well as other stories from within the 168 female members of the ATA, without whom the Battle of Britain may not have been won…


The Battle of Britain was an event that carved a place in history. Most well known for the event are those of Churchill’s ‘Few’, but what about the behind-the-scenes workers who made the British fight so strong and assisted in allowing the frontline fighters to succeed against the Germans? 

One faction of these workers was the Air Transport Auxiliary. From front line squadrons to maintenance units, the women of the Air Transport Auxiliary delivered aircraft across the four theatres of World War II. Tasked with delivering aircraft to the front line, the ATA had almost as important a job as any other. Within the 1320 members, 168 female pilots paved the way for equality amongst female workers. Often overlooked nowadays, their work was instrumental in the success of the airborne warfare of World War II. It allowed fighter pilots to concentrate on their combat duties and meant that the women could develop exceptional flying capabilities.  

In this video, David Duker from the Tally Ho project tells the story of just why the Air Transport Auxiliary ‘Spitfire Girls’ were so important in paving the road to equality for women in the workplace.