Previously, I have written about the WASP (Women Airforce Service Pilots) program in America in WWII. The research for this blog post led me to researching information about the Air Transport Auxiliary (ATA), a British civilian organization that was established to transport new aircraft, as well repairing military aircraft. Unusually, for this period in history the ATA admitted female pilots on the same par as men, though at first they could only fly the lighter de Havilland ‚Äòmoth‚Äô aircrafts. Female pilots could join provided that they had a pilot‚Äôs license, numerous hours‚Äô experience and clean flying log books-the breadth of the women‚Äôs experience eventually led to the female ATA members being allowed to ferry heavier planes such as Spitfires and Lancaster bombers.
Initially, it was only wealthy female pilots that could join the ATA, as aviation was an expensive hobby to pursue in the 1930s. Eventually, women from less well-off backgrounds and from other countries joined as the need for pilots within the ATA grew. One such woman who joined was South African pilot Jackie Moggridge, who was already famous in her native country. Jackie was famous as she was one of the first female pilots in South Africa to complete a successful parachute jump at the age of seventeen in 1938. Jackie had originally moved to England to complete a course in commercial aviation, but this stopped abruptly at the outbreak of war in 1939. At first, Jackie joined the Women‚Äôs Auxiliary Air Force in 1939 before transferring to the ATA after having been spotted by ATA Women‚Äôs Commandant Pauline Gower.
Jackie was stationed at Hatfield Ferry Pool, near Southampton, for the duration of the war between 1940 and 1945. It was here, that for the next four years Jackie (as the youngest pilot on base) flew larger and larger planes until eventually she began to ferry planes to troops in Northern France after D-Day in June 1940. Whilst working at the Hatfield Ferry Pool, Jackie also met her future husband, Reg Moggridge, whom she married in 1945. Jackie was one of the most successful pilots within the ATA and obtained many medals and commendations during and after the war, particularly from the British Prime Minister Clement Attlee and Queen Elizabeth II.
Jackie‚Äôs bravado carried on after the war, when after having her first daughter Jill in 1946, she decided she would like to become a commercial pilot. Unfortunately, her gender was up against her as the age-old prejudice against female pilots resumed after the end of the war. However,¬†this did not deter Jackie and she became one of the first female commercial pilots within Europe, when she began to fly for Channel Airlines in the 1950s. At this time Jackie was also a member of the newly re-formed Women‚Äôs Royal Air Force (formerly W.A.A.F.s). To say that Jackie was stunted in her profession as a woman never became true as Jackie continued to fly until 1993 at the ripe old age of seventy-four!
Jackie Moggridge‚Äôs story is little heard of today, as like many female service members‚ÄìAllied, Axis or otherwise‚Äìher story has been slightly forgotten about or people don‚Äôt believe that women were important pilots during WWII. However, with renewing interest in female participation during WWII, stories like Jackie‚Äôs are coming to light once more. Hopefully, Jackie‚Äôs story has influenced you to fly in your career, albeit in aviation or any other profession!
Girl Museum Inc.