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Spitfire Pilot Mary Ellis Has Died, Aged 101

Mary Ellis, one of the last surviving female pilots of the Second World War, has died at the age of 101.

Video: Mary Ellis speaking to Forces News in April 2018.

Mary Ellis, one of the last surviving female pilots of the Second World War, has died at the age of 101.

She died at her home on the Isle of Wight on Tuesday.

Mrs Ellis served in the Air Transport Auxiliary (ATA) which was responsible for delivering aircraft around the country.

During her flying career, she flew over 70 different aircraft and said that the Spitfire was her favourite.

She was a year older than the RAF when she died.

John Webster, Secretary, Air Transport Auxiliary Association said: "I can confirm that very sadly we have lost our amazing ATA Association Commodore Mary Ellis."

Speaking in April 2018, Mrs Ellis told Forces News: “The Spitfire as everyone knows is a delightful aeroplane, to fly it is absolutely fantastic it’s so responsive to all the actions you might want.

“It’s super. It’s an absolute super aeroplane and it looks beautiful too.

When asked what it was like to be one of the few female pilots in wartime, she said “a lot of people stood by and watched me take off”.

She said: “When I went to collect my first Spitfire the man helping me with my parachute asked, ‘how many of these have you flown before?’ and I said, ‘none, this is the first one’ and he nearly died of shock and he fell off the aeroplane.

“It’s quite fantastic how the RAF has changed and more so because of the aeroplanes that have changed.

“The pilots these days are full of knowledge which they have to be, flying these fast and furious aeroplanes.”

Mary Ellis did have the chance to return to the skies two years ago in a Spitfire:

 “It was marvellous one never forgets, never ever forgets, flying a Spitfire.”

Tributes have been paid to Mrs Ellis, including by Red Arrow pilot Mike Ling.

He said she was "legend of the Air Transport Auxiliary".

Head of the RAF, Air Chief Marshal Sir Stephen Hillier said: "Another terrible loss... an inspiration to generations.

"I'll always remember her proudly reminding us at RAF100 events that she was older than the RAF itself!"

Author and former RAF navigator John Nichol said: "Another giant leaves us to join her heroic friends in the blue skies."