Spitfire Sisters is a documentary about the female members of the British ATA, or Air Transport Auxiliary, a civilian organisation of pilots who were responsible for ferrying military aircraft around the United Kingdom during WWII.

The goal of the ATA was to free up military pilots for their critical dual roles of both protecting the country and launching offensive missions across the channel.

The female pilots of the ATA were initially met with a wall of resistance, few men at the time thought women were capable of flying competently and even fewer thought women could fly aircraft like Spitfires, Hurricanes, and Lancasters.

Pauline Gower

Above Image: Pauline Gower, Commandant of the ATA Women’s Section, in the cockpit of a Tiger Moth at Hatfield, Hertfordshire © IWM C380.

As it happened, women turned out to be perfectly suited to piloting warbirds of all descriptions and they quickly became a vitally important part of the ATA. Their work was more dangerous than many might suspect as they were expected to be able to fly almost anything – often with no type-specific training in various aircraft from fighters to bombers and trainers in wildly varied weather conditions across unfamiliar territory.

 

This documentary includes interviews with a significant number of surviving “Spitfire Sisters” discussing their service during the war and telling stories about the remarkable range of aircraft they all flew. The Spitfire seems to be the primary favourite however some of the ladies preferred large bombers like the Lancaster and one was partial to the simple charms of the Tiger Moth.

If you’d like to read more about the women of the ATA you can click here, it’s an interesting and largely unknown part of WWII history. If you’d like to read more about the ATA you can click here to visit the museum.

Female ATA Air Transport Auxiliary Pilots

Women ATA Pilots

Female ATA Pilots

Images courtesy of the Royal Air Force

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Ben Branch has had his work featured on CNN, Popular Mechanics, the official Smithsonian Magazine, Road & Track Magazine, the official Pinterest blog, the official eBay Motors blog, BuzzFeed, and many more.

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