Spitfire Women

Radio Times
Review by:
Gill Crawford

If you were a wealthy young woman in the 1930s, chances are you could fly (plucky aviatrix Amy Johnson inspired many bright young things). But it took a well-connected MP’s daughter, Pauline Gower, some time to persuade the authorities to allow eight women to ferry training aircraft around the country as part of the Air Transport Auxiliary (ATA) in early 1940. The press soon got wind of it, and the ATA women became the glamour girls of the war effort.

It’s clear from this 2010 documentary that for some, their experience in the ATA marked the highlight of their lives. There were casualties: “that was part of the game”, says one, but there was also a huge sense of camaraderie and achievement – one woman recalls flying over 70 types of aircraft – that simply couldn’t be done today.  

About this programme

The story of the 168 female pilots who served in Britain's Air Transport Auxiliary - an organisation responsible for delivering aircraft to the RAF on the front lines of battle during the Second World War. Despite having no radio or navigation equipment, ATA pilots were expected to fly any kind of aircraft to the destinations where they were most needed, often risking their lives in the process. The film also features interviews with the last surviving female veterans, who speak about the dangers they encountered in the skies and the discrimination they faced back home.

Cast and crew


Tracy-Ann Oberman


Harvey Lilley
Executive Producer
Kieran Smith
Harvey Lilley