Last of the Spitfire girls Mary Ellis dies at her home aged 101

Last of the Spitfire girls Mary Ellis – who flew 76 different aircraft during Second World War – dies at her home on the Isle of Wight aged 101

  • Spitfire girl Mary Ellis died at her home on the Isle of Wight aged 101 on Tuesday 
  • Mrs Ellis flew 400 Spitfires and 76 different types of aircraft during WWII
  • People took to Twitter to pay tribute to the legendary woman for her service

The last of the Spitfire girls Mary Ellis died at her home on the Isle of Wight aged 101 on Tuesday. Pictured: Mrs Ellis earlier this month

The last of the Spitfire girls Mary Ellis, who flew 76 different aircraft during the Second World War, has died at her home on the Isle of Wight aged 101.

The Oxfordshire native died in Sandown on Tuesday, and was one of the two last surviving UK female Air Transport Auxiliary (ATA) pilots.

Mrs Ellis flew 400 Spitfires and 76 different types of aircraft during WWII, and just before her 100th birthday she was able to fly once more in a Spitfire.

Just two weeks ago, Mrs Ellis attended the London premiere of Spitfires, where she was seen smiling on the red carpet and received a standing ovation after the film. 

Mrs Ellis took her first flying lesson as a teenager and flew for pleasure until 1939 when she heard a radio appeal for women pilots to join the auxiliary service. 

As news broke of her death, people took to social media to pay tribute to the  legendary woman and to thank her for her service.

John Nichol, a former prisoner-of-war and author, wrote: ‘Another giant leaves us to john her heroic friends in Blue Skies. Rest in peace Mary; you truly deserve it. Thank you.’  

Mrs Ellis flew 400 Spitfires and 76 different types of aircraft during WWII, and just before her 100th birthday she was able to fly once more in a Spitfire

Mary in the cockpit of a Spitfire. This picture was taken towards the end of the war as the aircraft has a five-bladed propeller associated with the later Marks

Pictured: ATA women pilots at No.15 Ferry Pool, Hamble, in 1943. Here Mary is with friends, standing second right of the picture

Twitter user Mike said: ‘More awful news. RIP Mary Ellis. A legend of the Air Transport Auxiliary. Over 1000 aircraft; 76 different types and over 400 Spitfires alone. I hope you’re enjoying a well-earned sherry up there with Joy Lofthouse again. Blue skies Ma’am #LestWeForget.’

Kevin Powell added: ‘I saw Mary Ellis interviewed recently. Her selflessness and belief that she had a duty to do all she did for the greater good shone through. A Truly inspirational lady who achieved so much for Britain.’  

Melody Foreman, author of A Spitfire Girl, described Mrs Ellis as ‘one of the world’s greatest female ferry pilots’.

She wrote: ‘Mary helped the war effort by delivering much needed aircraft including Wellington Bombers, Mustangs and many more to the aircrews of RAF fighter and bomber command squadrons.’


Just two weeks ago, Mrs Ellis attended the London premiere of Spitfires (pictured), where she was seen smiling on the red carpet and received a standing ovation after the film

Mrs Ellis with three men of Bomber Command, standing next to a Wellington aircraft

Mrs Ellis took her first flying lesson as a teenager and flew for pleasure until 1939 when she heard a radio appeal for women pilots to join the auxiliary service 

‘She flew 400 Spitfires and maintains that it is her favourite aircraft of all time. It is a symbol of freedom and liberty,’ said Ms Foreman.

‘When the ATA was closed in November 1945, Mary was seconded to the RAF to fly the new Meteor fast jet.

‘The next few years saw her working as a personal pilot to a wealthy businessman and by 1950 she became the boss of Sandown Airport on the Isle of Wight.

‘Mary became Europe’s first female air commandant and remained as managing director of Sandown until 1970.

‘[She] heard an appeal on the radio from the BBC for women pilots needed to help the war effort,’

‘She joined the Air Transport Auxiliary, an organisation which ferried aircraft from factories and maintenance units to RAF airfields all over Britain.’


  • Tanks for the memory! Artillery booms and diesel fumes as…


    The wooden wonder will fly again! Plane enthusiasts launch…

Share this article

Mary Ellis (C), an Air Transport Auxiliary pilot in World War Two, poses for a photograph with other veterans on August 18, 2015 in Biggin Hill, England

The Hamble women ATA pilots around a Spitfire. Mary is standing on the far left of the picture

When Mrs Ellis turned a century old, a surprise party was held in her honour at Sandown Airport, where more than 60 guests attended.

Mrs Ellis said at the event: ‘The war was a challenge and one had to do something about it. I went on and on until I flew everything. I love the Spitfire – it’s my favourite aircraft, it’s everyone’s favourite, it’s the symbol of freedom.’

Then as part of her celebrations, Mrs Ellis was handed the controls of a 275mph twin-seater Spitfire as it swooped over West Sussex.

After about 15 minutes, she turned for home, and told her co-pilot Matt Jones: ‘Goodwood on the nose, you have control…’. Then she settled back to enjoy the ride back to base.

Earlier that day, Mrs Ellis watched in delight as Spitfire MV154 took its place beside her in an extraordinary airborne tribute. It was a plane she had delivered to RAF Brize Norton from Southampton on September 15, 1944, and it hides a sentimental secret.

For at the end of the 25-minute wartime flight, she signed the cockpit, scrawling her maiden name Wilkins and the initials ATA.

Source: Read Full Article