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Joy Lofthouse (14 February 1923 – 15 November 2017)[1] was a British pilot, and one of the first women to fly a Spitfire. In World War Two, she flew Spitfires and bombers for the Air Transport Auxiliary (ATA), and was one of only 164 "Attagirls" who served.[2]

Early life[]

Lofthouse grew up in South Cerney in Gloucestershire.[3]

Career[]

In 1943, 20-year-old Lofthouse and her elder sister Yvonne joined the Air Transport Auxiliary, after they saw an ad in a magazine which was seeking women to learn how to fly.[1][3] Only 17 out of 2,000 applicants were accepted, including Joy, who had never even driven a car, and Yvonne.[1]

She was one of a total of 164 women who were members of the Air Transport Auxiliary.[4] Her job was to deliver aircraft from the factories where they were made to the airfields were they were to be flown from by Royal Air Force (RAF) pilots.[3] Lofthouse was able to fly 38 different types of aircraft.[4] During the war, they were based at White Waltham, in Berkshire.[4]

After World War II, she became a teacher.[4]

In May 2015, Lofthouse flew a Spitfire for the first time in over 70 years, to commemorate VE Day.[5] She said, "It was the iconic plane, the Spitfire lasted much longer than [the Hurricane] because it was such a wonderful aeroplane, I think. [It is] the nearest thing to having wings of your own and flying."[5]

Personal life[]

She was married twice and had three children. Her second marriage was to Charles Lofthouse, himself a Royal Air Force (RAF) pilot, and they were married for 30 years until his death in 2002 at the age of 80.[4]

She died in November 2017, at the age of 94.[2] When she died, Lofthouse, was one of the final two surviving World War Two "Spitfire Girls".[1]

References[]

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