• Fly & Deliver: A Flight For Joy

    Fly & Deliver: A Flight For Joy

    By Allan Jones

    Joy Lofthouse (nee Gough) was a pilot in the Air Transport Auxiliary in World War II. She died on 15 November 2017, age 94. Here is a sim for you to try of an ATA flight from Southampton to RAF Brize Norton that would have been routine for the pilots in her Ferry Pool at Hamble-le-Rice.

    Joy Lofthouse

    Lofthouse's death received quite wide coverage in the media. She was one of the last female Air Transport Auxiliary pilots still alive in 2017 and was feted extensively in her later years. A natural communicator, she helped to bring alive the ATA experience in a spate of media articles and documentaries. But like others, for many decades after WWII she was part of what another pilot, Lettice Curtiss, called 'The Forgotten Pilots'.

    Joy Lofthouse

    Joy was still a schoolgirl when World War II started. She joined the Air Transport Auxiliary in 1943 to be 'trained ab initio', as she called it. By that stage of the war the ATA was well-organized, with a training school at Haddenham, in Buckinghamshire. The memorabilia site (1) for Haddenham airfield has a sketch of Joy with other pilots drawn by June Gummer (nee Howden), another flyer who came all the way from New Zealand to join the ATA. June died in 2007. Joy's sister, Yvonne McDonald, was an ATA pilot also; she had the surname Wheatley at the time. Yvonne was then a young RAF widow as her 22-year old husband had been killed in a raid over Berlin. Yvonne died in 2014.

    Joy Lofthouse

    In the operational manner of ATA, Joy flew 18 different aircraft during her service; she was rated to fly single engine aircraft and light twins. Each duty day the pilots would turn up and wait to receive 'chits' telling them which aircraft to fly and where to take it. They were restricted to VFR flying only and could be assigned to any aircraft in the classification group they had qualified for, whether they had flown it before on not. They could be sent anywhere in the mainland UK or Northern Ireland.

    Like many others, Joy's favorite aircraft was the Spitfire and her unattained goal, which would have required further training and qualification, was to fly a de Havilland Mosquito. But the war ended and the ATA was rapidly disbanded. She became a teacher in civilian life. Seventy years later, she flew once more; she was given a ride in a two-seater Spitfire and had 'hands-on' control for a part of the flight. She said it was almost like being young again.

    ATA Memorial     Molly Rose and Joy Lofthouse

    1. allanj12's Avatar
      allanj12 -
      Mea Culpa. The link to Cheeseman’s book ‘Brief Glory’ (and other ATA materials) is now via the Maidenhead Heritage Trust website at http://maidenheadheritage.org.uk/shop/ not the ATAmuseum site.
    1. avallillo's Avatar
      avallillo -
      This is an excellent article! The women of the ATA, like their American sisters the WASPs, were both ahead of their time and also there at exactly the right time -- when they were needed most. More's the pity then, that they had to hand in their flight bags for aprons after the war.

      I wonder if the WWII barrage balloons could be created in either FSX or Xplane, using some sort of scenery object. Of course, there are hot air balloons in FS, perhaps those could be made to float at the prototypical height so as to provide some visual effects?

      Anyway, well done Allan!

      Tony Vallillo
    1. allanj12's Avatar
      allanj12 -
      Hi Tony, thank you for your kind words. I, too, had thought about the idea of ‘balloon lane’ add-ons when I wrote the article (and previously when I wrote the ebook, as there is a flight through a balloon barrage in a Halifax bomber included there) but I have no skills in scenery design - never mind ‘interactive scenery’, where the aircraft could snare a cable!

      You are right to also mention the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASPs) who gave similar dedicated service in the USA in World War II and were also only recognized belatedly. They all served well and deserve our thanks.
    1. keefpee's Avatar
      keefpee -
      Very good article, I had never considered the problem of balloon free lanes, & my father, who joined ATA at the end of 1943 never mentioned anything about them. He did though know by sight most of the church spires & navigated using them!
      I have loaned his logbook to the Maidenhead museum.
    1. allanj12's Avatar
      allanj12 -
      Hi Keith; in the later stages of the war the bombing casualties in the UK were largely due to the V1 and V2 rockets. The barrages would be ‘down’ more often, I suspect, and so less significant for the ATA pilots. The Hamble ATA operated from September 1940 onwards. As Cheeseman recorded, they would have far more experience of the barrage balloons being up earlier on in the war.

      I sent my book with other 'sims' to the ATA Museum at Maidenhead when it was published, as they have a Spitfire simulator there. One day I hope to visit the museum and see some of the log books like your father’s. I'm glad you liked the article.
    1. keefpee's Avatar
      keefpee -
      Back in 2015 I had a special short flip in the simulator, its very good and a nice cockpit structure. Managed a good landing....
    1. allanj12's Avatar
      allanj12 -
      Another ATA pilot passes way - Margot Duhalde died yesterday, age 97. From Chile, she answered the call in WWII, arriving by sea into Liverpool speaking no English. She was arrested as a suspected spy for a few days. Once that was sorted out, she soon joined the ATA, flying 900 aircraft, 70 different types, in the four years she was in the ATA. Amazing flying experiences in challenging times…
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