Mary Ellis – last of the WWII women Spitfire pilots – dies aged 101

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Mary Ellis – last of the WWII women Spitfire pilots – dies aged 101


Mary Ellis flew 400 Spitfires after she joined up in 1941. Photo: PA
Mary Ellis flew 400 Spitfires after she joined up in 1941. Photo: PA

The last surviving female Spitfire pilot – who flew 400 of the planes during World War II -has died aged 101.

Mary Ellis was the last known remaining pilot of the Air Transport Auxiliary (ATA), which delivered Spitfires and bombers to RAF airfields during the war.



Mary Ellis flew 400 Spitfires after she joined up in 1941. Photo: PAMary Ellis flew 400 Spitfires after she joined up in 1941. Photo: PA

Mary Ellis flew 400 Spitfires after she joined up in 1941. Photo: PA

At the start of the war, women were not allowed to fly military aircraft, but this changed in 1940. Ms Ellis, whose maiden name was Wilkins, joined the ATA in 1941 after hearing an advert for women pilots on the radio.

She was born into a farming family in Brize Norton, Oxfordshire, in 1917 and learnt to fly at a nearby flying club.

After joining the ATA, she started at Central Flying School, training on Tiger Moths, Harts and Hinds.

She had spent more than 1,100 hours flying 56 different types of aircraft by the end of the war. Ms Ellis was one of the last six female pilots still flying for ATA by the end of 1945.

Red Arrows pilot Mike Ling was among those to pay tribute to Ms Ellis on Twitter. Dan Snow, the television historian, also posted pictures of a visit to Ms Ellis just last week.

During the post-war period, Ms Ellis returned to Brize Norton and continued farming before moving to the Isle of Wight where she took up a job at an airfield. She enjoyed keeping sheep and used them to graze the grass.

Ms Ellis also enjoyed driving rally cars. She married Donald Ellis in 1961, who shared her love of flying.

Earlier this year, aged 100, she was awarded the Freedom of the Isle of Wight.

© Daily Telegraph, London

Telegraph.co.uk

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