Ninety-two-year-old World War II Spitfire pilot Joy Lofthouse recently got to fly a Spitfire again as part of the seventy-year anniversary of the use of the planes in the Air Transport Auxiliary (ATA).
The ATA was used in WWII to “[ferry] Royal Air Force and Royal Navy warplanes between factories, maintenance units and front-line squadrons.”
Following the anniversary flight, the BBC reported that Lofthouse described the opportunity as “lovely” and “perfect,” adding that it made her feel “quite young” again.
CNN relayed Lofthouse’s stories of how treasured the Spitfire was and how “bomber pilots who flew with her late husband often wanted to hear about her experiences with the plane during post-war reunions.” Lofthouse said those bomber pilots would all say, “We’d have given our right arm to fly a Spitfire.”
In a 2011 video, Lofthouse and fellow ATA pilot Molly Rose recalled flying Spitfires during the war and pointed out that they had no contact with people on the ground once they were in the air. Rose said, “People are always puzzled that we literally had a compass, but no contact with the ground at all.”
They pointed out that radios were very new at the time and were reserved “entirely for combat.”
Lofthouse said people often ask if she ever landed at the wrong airfield. She smiled and said, “Well, if we did, I never told anyone. We just said, ‘Oh, a red light came on, and I thought we’d better pop off to the next place.'”
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