Was your grandma a Spitfire pilot? Maidenhead Museum launches search for ATA veterans

By Culture24 Staff | 25 January 2010
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a black and white photo of a plilot

(Above) Diana Barnato Walker climbing into the cockpit of a Spitfire whilst serving with the Air Transport Auxillary.

Maidenhead Heritage Centre & Museum is uncovering the fascinating story of the many female pilots who ferried aircraft to the RAF in World War Two with a new Research Centre & Exhibition dedicated to the work of the Air Transport Auxiliary (ATA).

Due to open this summer the Museum is looking for information on pilots and others who worked for the ATA at airfields across the UK during World War II.

ATA pilots, many of whom were women, delivered much needed aircraft from factories to front line squadrons. They were based at 13 Ferry Pools at airfields around the country, including the ATA’s headquarters at White Waltham outside Maidenhead.

“1200 male and female pilots of 28 different nationalities delivered over 309,000 aircraft, an amazing achievement, especially as most ATA pilots had only flown light aircraft before the war,” explained Richard Poad, aviation historian and Chairman of Maidenhead Heritage Centre.

“Our planned new exhibition will celebrate their inspiring stories and allow friends and relatives to find out more about their loved-ones' incredible achievements.”

Staff at the Centre have already collected over 1000 records and photos but would like to hear from people local to the many ATA airfields who have information about ATA people based there.

Other Ferry Pools were located at: Whitchurch near Bristol; Aston Down near Stroud; Cosford near Telford; Ringway near Manchester (now Manchester International); Belfast; Sherburn in Elmet in Yorkshire; Kirkbride near Carlisle; Prestwick near Glasgow; and Lossiemouth near Inverness.

If you have any information please contact the centre at ata@maidenheadheritage.org.uk or telephone 01628 780555 for more information or write to Maidenhead Heritage Centre at 18 Park Street, Maidenhead SL6 1SL.

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