Mary Ellis, One of Britain’s WWII Ferry Pilots, Flies Into Sunset

Dateline Tuesday July 24, 2018 London UKMary Ellis (ne Wilkins) during WWII while on Flight Duty

Virg Hemphill

This story is thanks to FASF Aviation News Scout, Virg Hemphill (L)

One of the last few living British female World War II Ferry Service pilots, the legendary Mary Ellis, died peacefully at he home, at 101, on the Isle of Wight this past Tuesday evening, the 24th of July 2018.

Mrs. Ellis was a member of the Air Transport Auxiliary (ATA) and delivered Spitfires and bombers to the front lines during the conflict.

She said she had flown “about 1,000 aeroplanes” during the war, before moving to the Isle of Wight in 1950 to take charge of Sandown Airport.

ATA secretary John Webster described Mrs. Ellis as an “amazing” person.

While she was commonly known as the last-surviving female pilot from the war, in fact there are three others.

Mr. Webster said that one, Eleanor Wadsworth, lives in Bury St Edmunds, another, Nancy Stratford, lives in the US and the other, Jaye Edwards, lives in Canada.


The above short (1:19) Video is of interview with Mary Ellis about her WWII experiences.

Mary Ellis, then Mary Wilkins, joined the ATA in 1941 after hearing an advertisement for women pilots on BBC radio.

She said at the time they were known as the “Glamour Girls”, adding: “There were plenty of escorts around.”

                             Just last year, Mary posed by a restored WII Spitfire, 400 of which she successfully ferried.

                                  Mary chats with Prime Minister, Teresa May at 10 Downing Street, London

  Mary Ellis outside 10 Downing St., where she visited with UK’s PM, Teresa May, in celebration of her 100th birthday.

                                                     Mary Wilkins (Ellis) in formal ATA Portrait in 1941.

The following Spitfire Video is 7:46 in length.  Make sure your sound is on for both videos.

And this second Spitfire action video (below) is 3:48.

2 thoughts on “Mary Ellis, One of Britain’s WWII Ferry Pilots, Flies Into Sunset

  1. Mike Mangino

    Ric, but what I want to know —————- what did she eat???????  and as an after thought——– drink????? mike

    1. fasfric

      Two good questions, too good actually, since don’t know the answers. I’ll see if I can dig up some of this information. She seemed quite active right up ’til the end. Totally ambulatory and had good talkative session with the Prime Minister last year. I also watched her back in 2017, when they took her up in that beloved Spitfire and she flew it!


Leave a Reply