Ferry Pilots

This page has been updated with material collected and compiled in 2000 by Wg.Cdr Alan Watkins for the Haddenham Village Millenium Fete and used with his permission.

The Air Transport Auxiliary had been formed under BOAC’s care as a totally civilian operation with the sole job of delivering aircraft around the country from factories or maintenance facilities to the airfields where they were needed. This was to prove vital and removed the need for Service pilots to be pulled away from their more important roles. Late in 1942, even before the Glider Instructor School moved out, officials from the Air Transport Auxiliary had been to Haddenham to assess its suitability for a new training school.

The ATA's pilots came from various sources. Some were civilian pilots before the war, some were seconded directly from the RAF, some had no flying experience at all. So it was necessary to form a training school where pupils could be trained from scratch ‘the ATA way’.
The school was initially started at White Waltham in Berkshire where the ATA had its headquarters but things became very busy there so it moved to the small airfield at Barton-le-Clay just north of Luton. However after only a year things became difficult there also with the testing of various fighter aircraft, as well as flights by new aircraft from the nearby Percival factory, all going on at the same time. So it was decided to move most of the operation, leaving just a few aircraft for initial pilot selection and basic training.

The move to Haddenham was not without its difficulties, the biggest being that of billeting. Because the ATA was a civilian organisation things couldn’t just be requisitioned as by the military, so housing, cleaners, catering staff etc. all had to be found. Volunteers were called for from all over the ATA organisation from as far away as Scotland and some labourers were even hired direct from Southern Ireland. Initially two colonies of concrete huts left over from the GTS days were used for accommodation and the ‘communal feeding and social centre’, also vacated by the RAF, (now the site of the Public Library), was also used. There wasn’t even a canteen on the airfield so an empty hut was put to use as a temporary snack bar, which nearly vanished soon after when an Engineering Officer taxied a Fairey Barracuda into it! Senior members of the staff were eventually housed in one wing of Dinton Hall by kind permission of Sir William Currie, women members were housed separately in either Hopefield or Yolsum House.

After initial training up to solo standard at Barton, (travelling there each day by bus), the pupils would return to Haddenham for lectures on Meteorology, Navigation, Engines etc. before converting from the simple Miles Magister to slightly more complicated aircraft such as the Percival Proctor, Fairchild Argus, Fairey Swordfish or even Hawker Hart and Audax. Once past this stage the pupil would be allowed off on their own usually in a Magister to do a series of long cross-country flights which would familiarise them with all of the hazards of wartime Britain, such as Balloon Barrages, Forbidden Areas and major airfields. Following this stage the pupil would be posted away to one of the Ferry Pool’s for a month where he or she would act as general dogsbody ferrying empty light aircraft about, (they were still not allowed to carry passengers at this time). This would get them used to the procedures involved in ferrying as well as give them extra experience without subjecting them or anyone else to too much danger.
After the month was up the pupil would return to Haddenham once again for training on more sophisticated aircraft, which is where the ubiquitous Harvard comes in. This aircraft had all the new-fangled complications a ferry pilot would soon be using such as retractable undercarriage and variable-pitch propellers. If all went well at this stage the pupil was converted onto the school Spitfire, usually a tired Mk.Vb or similar, and then receive their Wings. At this stage they were allowed to fly any aircraft in Class I, which was essentially any single-engined aircraft from Walrus to Typhoon. Multi-engine training was done at White Waltham. Co-located with the Initial Flying Training School at Haddenham was No.5 Ferry Pool from where the new pilots would start their regular ferrying with the single-engine fighters of the day.
Life wasn’t a complete bed of roses at Haddenham even in the ATA. On September 2nd 1943 a Hawker Hart, (K6526), crashed on the approach to the airfield and immediately caught fire. One of the Engineers on the field, Mr. E. West was soon on the scene and despite considerable risk to himself was able to extricate the pilot. Mr.West was awarded the ATA’s Certificate of Commendation.


J.B. Dorrington remembers his 10 months at Haddenham with affection and much enjoyment. He was mixing with people from all over the world, ‘from girls presented at Court to avowed Communists’ . His Instructors were also a mixed bag, the first was a retired Bank Manager who had flown in the First World War, (E.C. Mogridge), the second a commis chef at the Dorchester and the third a society photographer for The Tatler! (The latter was E.C.H. (Nobby) Pearmund who instructed on Harvards.)
Haddenham wasn’t too bad a place to stay either, with weekends off the pupils could at least take advantage of the several pubs, as well as concerts held locally and easy access to Aylesbury or London. He even recalls the ATA had formed a rugger team which although started off inauspiciously eventually beat a team from the Highland Division.
He started his training on October 6th 1943 and by the end of 1944 had flown 14 different types including Hurricane, Spitfire, Firefly, Barracuda, Mustang and Swordfish and had covered the length and breadth of the country.


Yvonne Macdonald also trained with the ATA at Haddenham. The following is an extract from an e-mail she sent me:
"I was still at school when the war started and was an RAF widow early in 1943 (my 22 year old husband was lost bombing Berlin and is buried at Antwerp). I had no flying experience but applied to ATA and was accepted for training during a short period when they took in a few 'ab initio' applicants. My sister, Joy, also applied in 1943 and we ended up being the only sisters out of the 240 females who served. I reported to Thame in Sept.43, my sister was a couple of classes behind me.
As far as I remember we were admitted in groups of ten or twelve, and as you say, bussed to Barton every day for flying instruction. We were given 12 hours to solo, some were deemed unsuitable for various reasons. Safety was stressed and later when we were delivering fighter aircraft to squadrons we were aware that any accident or incident that could be traced to our lack of judgement or care would not be tolerated. The pilots in training in my time were varied, a couple of Waafs, an American lady with lots of experience who nevertheless had to learn our way etc....... After Barton we returned to Thame to do cross country trips, sometimes with an instructor as we still had a lot to learn. Somewhere in here we did a couple of weeks ground school. We flew a small monoplane at Barton and Thame, the Magister, it had a fixed undercarriage. I also flew my first Tiger Moth here. For some reason reason we didn't use them for training. You must remember we didn't fly every day because of the weather. Anyway I first flew with an instructor on Oct 8th and flew solo on Nov 8th. Still lots to learn tho', I remember I earned my wings on March 1st, exactly a year from my husbands' death. Lots of time then on the Fairchild Argus, our hard worked taxi aircraft........... I ended the war having flown about twenty different types, a very modest amount as some of the experienced women who were in from 1940 had well over 100 including 4 engines and jets. I was stationed at Cosford, Hamble and Sherburn, but put in at all our pools from time to time".
Click here for Yvonne's story brought right up to date!


June Gummer (nee Howden), Whangarei, New Zealand.
(In correspondence with Wg.Cdr Alan Watkins, August & September 1999

I started training in Jan/Feb 1944, having been in the New Zealand WAAF and released to see if the ATA would accept me, travelled over at my own expense (i.e. I reimbursed my father post-war for my fare - he believed in ‘paying your own way’). I had won a newspaper’s flying Scholarship whilst at boarding school at Hamilton in 1935 when I was 17, where I had about 50 hours of dual and solo, but hadn’t flown for a few years - the confidence of youth is amazing!
The reception ‘Security’ Committee at Liverpool was very suspicious, especially re my address book having so many airmen pilots’ addresses and Von Eckner (I collected ‘aviators autographs’)! They told me there was a war on and I would probably be sent to work in a munitions factory.
A NZ Sq/Ldr was told to be responsible for my authenticity - I had forgotten that I had a letter from our Minister of Air, probably in my trunk in the bowels of the ship. However, the 200 Pall Mall cigarettes I’d picked up in New York passed OK. “You’ll probably smoke all these before you land?” “Oh, yes!” Actually, I didn’t smoke; they were for gifts.
We did initial training on Miles Magisters at Barton-in-the-Clay, travelling daily from Haddenham by an ATA bus. Ground school was at Haddenham, conversion on to Harvards and Spitfire and, later, Oxfords at Haddenham.
Yes ... That first Spitfire was quite something!! It was a Spit 5; I beat up Hartwell Camp (very mild beat up) and up-up to the clouds, levelled off and there were black puffs from the exhausts and bangs. “Oh my God, not a forced landing surely?” I’d forgotten that the 5's didn’t have injection carburettors! All was well and I made lots of what my instructor called “graveyard approaches” but good landings, until the control wanted to go home and called me in with red Aldis lamp signals.
A Mr Rose, a carpenter, in Haddenham, made me a gadget for me to strap on my knee for Nav purposes but I don't think I used it much in the end.
After Thame I was posted to Cosford and when Cosford closed to Hamble until ATA was disbanded. I ended up with about 22 types in the logbook.

June Gummer was a prolific sketch artist as can be seen from some of the pictures on the right. For more of June's pictures and more of her story in the ATA go to this page.


Derek Blaise, Frinton-on-Sea (In correspondence with Wg.Cdr Alan Watkins 8/7/99)

I qualified as an RAF pilot in Canada in Dec 43. On returning to the UK I was at once redundant for, thank God, aircrew losses had much diminished and a surfeit of pilots existed. Fortunately a small number of us were seconded to ATA at No 5 Ferry Pool for ferrying tuition.
In a nutshell, we were taught to memorise a standard cockpit drill, thus locating the knobs and bits which, coupled with the data in a ringed handbook, enabled us to fly any type within our category, of which there were five: Single engine, Light twin, Heavy twin, 4-engined, and Flying Boats.
I was on Single-engined ferrying, mostly to M/Us. So you will see that I was not a typical pilot. The old stagers were mostly pre-war, fairly comfortably off men and women with a love of flying and already qualified pilots.
On a lighter note, I recall an incident which might amuse you. One day I had to collect a Barracuda from a Naval station. A Lt Cdr asked for a lift. This was not allowed but I told him to hop in and keep quiet. As I tucked him in before shutting the canopy he said, “Do you know, old boy, this is the first time I’ve been in one of these”. “Me too”, I said. I can see his face now. But he stayed put. Probably thought that I was joking, but I wasn’t.


Daphne Rumball, Victoria, British Columbia. (In correspondence with Wg.Cdr Alan Watkins, 10/4/2000)

I look back on my two years with the A.T.A with fond memories - demanding, exciting, sometimes terrifying, but mostly I remember the friendships I made and the wonderful people I was lucky enough to meet. My connection with Haddenham and Thame is twofold. In 1940 my application to join the W.R.N.S. went unanswered, the firm I was working with at Ramsgate moved away ‘for the duration’, my mother decided (as things were getting rather ‘lively’) to stay near my brother in Thame for a few weeks - so I joined her. I immediately got another secretarial job with Hordern-Richmond on the edge of the airfield at Haddenham. With ‘digs’ in Thame, I spent the next two years with them, cycling back and forth most of the time, then moved to their Princes Risborough office. After a few months there, I happened to see an ad for ‘pilots in A.T.A.’ and, on the strength of going solo and having a few hours on a Tiger Moth with the Civil Air Guard at Ramsgate Airport in 1939 (which is now ‘housing’ I think) I applied - and to my great astonishment was accepted! I survived 1 F.T.S. at Luton and Barton-in-the-Clay, learning to fly all over again in a Miles Magister, and then was somewhat shocked to discover we were being sent to Thame now No 5 E.F.T.S. (“Oh - it’s near Aylesbury” they said!).
Unfortunately, my efforts to control the Hawker Hart were not sufficiently good to go on to the Harvard and Class II aircraft (Spitfires etc) so I expected to be ‘scrubbed’ at once. But I managed to fly a Percival Proctor (with a variable-pitch air screw) to the satisfaction of two incredibly patient instructors, and after ‘secondments’ to Cosford and Hamble, I spent the spring and summer at Thame in 1944, mostly doing ‘taxi’ work with the Fairchild Argus and the occasional Class I ferry job. Then to No 1 F.P. White Waltham in July, until I left A.T.A. in May 1945.
One of my brothers joined the R.A.F.V.R. in 1939 but was tragically killed in a Spitfire accident in November 1940 (with 610 Squadron at Acklington). The other brother (older) was teaching at Lord Williams School in Thame (and doing Observer Corps duties) until 1942, when he joined the R.A.F. as an Intelligence Officer, first doing Photo Interpretation, then with Squadrons at Tangmere, then to Denmark until the end of the war. He returned as Senior Master at Lord Williams after the war. He died in 1983 and the brothers are now buried together in Thame churchyard.


W.H. Aldrich, Weston-Super-Mare. (In correspondence with Wg.Cdr Alan Watkins, 20/10/99)

From OTU I went on to an HCU at Sandtoft or as it was popularly called Prangtoft for obvious reasons. It was here that on my second solo in a Halifax I did a spiral dive into the deck from 800 feet. This resulted in my appearance before an Aircrew Re-selection Board which decided that as I had proved to be inefficient on one type of aircraft and the Air Force has no room for inefficient pilots I could become a bomb-aimer or transfer to Air Transport Auxiliary. As this was mid 1944 the thought of flying with an even bigger clot than myself hardly fitted my personal survival plan so I elected to go to ATA.
Haddenham or Thame to give it the RAF name for the airfield was the Initial Flying Training School for ATA and was designed to train potential ferry pilots to be able to fly all single engined planes with the exception of Tempests and Typhoons. These u/t pilots as I recall were all women and given the rank of cadet whereas the RAF pilots of whom there were about six or seven sergeants and myself and another flight lieutenant were all classed as Third Officers.
I believe there was some sort of hostel accommodation but five or six of us to save money decided to sleep in a Nissen hut across the road from the airfield where there was a canteen.
All trainees, T/Os and Cadets, were given the same very excellent training in both the classroom and in the air. Map reading was most important since ferry pilots had no radio and only a compass and a map as navigational aids while coping with a strange plane in poor visibility caused by the dark satanic mills working flat out for the war effort. Stress was laid on the types of landmarks that could be relied upon and how the shape of lakes could change with flooding also forests could change. The most reliable guide was Bradshaw’s Iron Beam namely the railway. The dangers of pressing on in bad weather could not be over emphasised. As Air Force pilots we had a lot of training on instrument flying but flying in cloud without knowing what is in it and below it could be fatal. We were also taught acronyms to cover pre flight, take off and landing drills to cover all types of planes we would be qualified to fly.
Our flying training started in Magisters at Barton airfield. The Magister was an open cockpit two seater low wing monoplane fitted with brakes and flaps. A Tiger Moth biplane without brakes or flaps was used to demonstrate stalling, spinning and sideslipping.
After the Magisters came the Proctor a four seater saloon type plane with a two pitch propeller, brakes and flaps together with a boost gauge. This was a welcome change as it was now November 1944. It did not last however because by December we were back to the Magisters and doing cross country flights. In fine weather they would have taken a maximum of three hours to complete, as it was, such a trip took me on one occasion four days, and it had been known for one trainee to have taken three weeks.
The next move according to my log book was conversion to type namely the Argus, an American high wing four seater monoplane which was also known as a Fairchild. It was used to take ferry pilots to and from their destinations. The conversion did not take long and we moved on to the next type.
This was a Harvard another American aircraft and not one of my favourites. A two seater enclosed cockpit with a variable pitch propeller, flaps and brakes. It had a complicated starting procedure and no automatic boost control. This was the final hurdle before flying the Spitfire. To make it as realistic as possible to the Spitfire the Harvard was flown from the back seat. The restricted forward visibility required a landing approach to be on a perpetual curve and taxying in a zigzag.
Prior to our first flight in the Spitfire it was impressed upon us the need to effect the change-over of pilots as quickly as possible as on the ground the engine could quickly over heat. This was because one strut of the undercarriage blocked the oil cooler intake. Well came the moment and I hastily squeezed myself into the cockpit, strapped on the Sutton harness, selected fine pitch, rich mixture and brakes off. I opened the throttle with my left hand while holding the joy stick with my right. There was a sound as though the hounds of hell were behind and the plane speeded its bumpy way over the grass towards the far boundary. Airborne I selected undercarriage “up’ this affected the smoothness of the take off because I had to use my right hand to operate the lever. Distracted by being unable to close the hood I failed to notice the undercarriage although selected had not in fact retracted. The instructor was not best pleased. However after a few more circuits and bumps I got the hang of it and was checked out as a Class 2 pilot and qualified to fly any aircraft except a Tempest or Typhoon.
At the time my home was in Bristol so I was happy to take the opportunity of a ride in an Argus that was going to an airfield just outside Bath. The pilot was an attractive cadet who was reputed to be a Pacific island princess. I declined her offer for me to take the controls and said I would map read. Reaching our destination we found jets were using the out of wind runway. It was quite windy and I suggested we should use the runway that was into wind. However she ignored my advice and, give her due, made a text book touchdown which was subsequently marred by a gust of wind catching the underside of the port wing and tipping the plane on its side. The result was I found myself half out of the aircraft with her on top. No injuries but it would have been quicker to have gone by train in view of the time spent on report writing. Although I did not sign the Form 700 which would have made me captain of the aircraft nevertheless as usual I got the blame.
ATA pilots could be expected to ferry any type of plane that came within their classification and that could amount to dozens. Accordingly we were issued with a thick note book containing essential details of every RAF aircraft. This allowed pilots to check what to do before take off and while in the circuit preparatory to landing. Having been given a Barracuda to ferry from Wroughton to Kirkbride and confronted with this somewhat weird looking aircraft I discovered the one thing the book did not mention was how to get into it. For this I had to ask the ground crew.
When I was at Central Gunnery School there were times when one of our aged Wellingtons was required to go to a Maintenance Unit but because it was a borderline case it would be left for ATA to collect. Little did I think I would be on the receiving end of such a practice. On more than one occasion I have had to collect a plane parked at some remote dispersal point adorned with placards recording the absence of various parts. Delivering a fighter was something of an embarrassment since if another fighter was in the circuit the pilot would usually want to play games despite attempts to wave him off. On one memorable occasion I had a Spitfire IX, a more powerful model than the Spitfire V I cut my teeth on. This was to be taken from Cowley to Cosford. The airfield at Cowley was surrounded by buildings which gave the impression of it being smaller than it was. The plane had been on dispersal for sometime because when I took off my forward vision was completely cut off by a cascade of water coming from the nose. Safely airborne I decided to follow the railway line to Bristol and follow the Severn Valley to Cosford. Just as well because no sooner had I started than the constant speed unit on the propeller started to leak making forward vision impossible. As a precaution I throttled back but even so the speed was still 120 MPH. I eventually landed at Colerne for repairs, which happens to be near Bristol.


Edward Henry Robinson.
John Robinson wrote to me regarding his father who served in the ATA from 1941 to 1945 on secondment from BOAC. (He can be seen as the eighth person in the group photo of ATA staff on the right of the page).

"My father was on a mission to create and implement Planned Maintenance and improved familiarisation techniques in aviation, since his early days as a shipbuilding engine apprentice in 1918 then joining the RAF and being posted to Iraq and India.
He joined Imperial Airways in 1928 and was there at all the major events during the Empire Routes expansion being posted then as Resident Inspector at Short Bros. in 1936, then re-posted to open Hythe Base and back again to Shorts. He became the nucleus of training at Hythe for Engineers and Pilots which continued later at Whitchurch. Following a short period in Canada at the inception of ATFERO he was posted to ATA as a Technical Instructor (First Officer then later Flight Captain).
Right at the start of his posting with ATA he implemented a quick and simple familiarisation booklet for pilots based on extensive knowledge gained on aircraft engines from his early days with Imperial and his subsequent training experience - these became known as the 'Ferry Pilot Notes'.
At the time the photo you show on your site was taken my family were living in a caravan purchased by my father in the field of a local Thame farmer after having lost their flat at Piggotts Hill.
My eldest sister and two brothers attended the local catholic school, my brother Peter still remembers being given an instruction on cockpit instrumentation in a Procter at the airfield, something that he has retained throughout his own years in aviation, having recently retired as Chief Engineer of an Australian Airline, I also have been an aircraft Design Engineer on Military and Civil aircraft such as Airbus mainly due to my encouraged interest in aviation.

If you would like to see examples of logbook pages from some of those stationed at Haddenham with the ATA, click here.


June Gummer (nee Howden), Whangarei, New Zealand, August & September 1999

 Mr & Mrs Perkins ran the grocery shop. Mr Hulme was stationmaster of Elmer’s Halt. Stationmaster Hulme invited me to come and sit by their fire, which was kind of him, but somehow I never managed to do so. Dr & Mrs John Patterson invited many of us to play tennis on their court, any evening.
I recall a woodpecker working on a Hopefield House tree and a wren which built a nest under my window at Hopefield House; children bringing out their whipping toys and the tinkle of the Perkins’ shop door bell; the plovers on the airfield - one dented the wing of my Fairchild Argus’s wing on takeoff towards the railway line. It wasn’t a large field, but it sufficed.
Yolsum House was used as billets, across the road from the canteen and offices, near the airfield entrance.
Margaret Morrison, the authoress of romantic novels, was our Medical Officer. She wrote 'Paid to be Safe' around an ATA girl pilot, ficticious character.
From a letter home dated April 28th 1944 - "Jimmy and I went cycling last evening and saw a fair which opens tonight. Roundabouts, swingboats, shies, steam roller, caravans and a tower to slide down. It was not allowed onto the village green until after the evening service". (Jimmy was killed in a Seafire 15.11.44).

Jean Mcpherson and I were stuck in a window waiting to see a Doodlebug go overhead at Yolsum House; the village ‘imminent warning’ had sounded. I said “What’ll we do if it stops?” Boom boom boom, getting louder. LOUDER!! “I don’t know, perhaps we’d better throw ourselves down in the corridor... !“ Then we realised it had stopped! So... into the corridor, where we squatted down, giggling nervously to a ZZZZZ noise. Someone on the road at the time said it was about 600 to 800 feet overhead. It didn’t topple its gyros - it glided on to hit Brill on the Hill. Post-war I met Annette Evill, daughter of Air Vice-Marshal Sir Douglas Evill, Senior Staff Officer at Fighter Command. She said “That was the one that broke all our windows in Brill.” Small world.
The Crown and the Red Lion were the pubs. We used to celebrate having “Spat” (i.e. flown the Spitfire) at the Red Lion or The Crown, where the locals rather felt put upon at having their pubs crowded with off-comers! However, they accepted our presence with good grace. The New Zealand contingent based at Hartwell Camp, near Aylesbury - Col Truesdale, Rev Harry Taylor (who had shared a caravan in Italy with my brother, Peter Howden a medical officer in the NZ Expeditionary Force) and Colin Wallace, son of the Postmaster in my home town of Waiuku, south of Auckland and a school friend of my brother’s - all came over to help me celebrate having flown my first Spit. They were in England to organise repatriation of NZ POWs; small world again!
I just used the High Street from Hopefield House and never really explored Haddenham, only the surrounding countryside, and we usually went to London for days off. I suppose we didn’t meet many locals as men of our generation would have been in the forces, the women coping alone, and rationing didn’t encourage hospitality. Things were abnormal, to say the least. ... Many Haddenham women would have been working in some form of war service too. There was no traffic, no petrol.


Jane Spencer, Baltimore, USA  17/1/2000

During the summer of 1944, I lived at Yolsum house, and a group of men cadets lived in a house on the south side of the village. We all ate at a mess, in the centre of the village. You may have heard how bad it was; almost everyone was ill at some time. About halfway along, toward the mess, where the road bent slightly, there used to be a tiny shop on the north side, where one could buy apples - real Cox pippins.


W.H. Aldrich, Weston-Super-Mare,  20/10/99

After fifty years some memories tend to fade. For instance I was a civil servant yet I have no idea as to what my fellow pilots did in civvy street, although there was one young lad who used to sit cross legged on the crewroom table making a hand sewn pair of trousers. For something to do we put on a concert in the village hall but for the life of me I cannot remember what it was all about.
Most of our pleasures were sought in London and decisions had to be made as to which uniform, RAF or ATA, would be the most advantageous to wear. Having had to surrender our 1250's it was a bit dodgey to wear RAF uniform with only a civilian identity card to back it up.
I recall tea dances with debutantes at The Dorchester and various other similar functions we weedled our way into. One thing we did learn was after a night out in town it was a crossed-leg journey from Baker Street to Aylesbury in a corridor-less train!

For more than two years Haddenham was a very busy airfield, probably busier than when the GTS was here, with no end of aircraft doing circuits and bumps as well as setting off on training cross-country flights and fighters such as Spitfires and Mustangs on their way to operational squadrons.

By 1945 most of the work of the ATA had been done and there was certainly little need for any further training of new pilots. The ATA was gone from Haddenham by VE-day.

(You can learn more about the ATA by visiting the website of the Maidenhead Heritage Centre which has a major collection of ATA material.)


Hopefield House - Copyright June Gummer, by permission of Wg Cdr Alan Watkinson

Hopefield House was used to billet the female members of the ATA whilst they were at Haddenham. (Sketch by June Howden, ATA 1944)

Quiet Day at Barton - Copyright June Gummer, by permission of Wg Cdr Alan Watkinson

'Quiet Day at Barton', (Sketch by June Howden, ATA 1944)

Yvonne Macdonald in A.T.A. uniform

No5 School Spit - Copyright June Gummer, by permission of Wg Cdr Alan Watkinson

No.5 Ferry Pool Spitfire Mk.IIb, P7619. (Sketch by June Howden, ATA 1944)

Outside Hopefield House - Copyright June Gummer, by permission of Wg Cdr Alan Watkinson

The photo shows Rosamund Everard Steenkamp, Jean McPherson, Monique Agazarian and Mary Guthrie.

“Rosamund Everard Steenkamp was niece of Sir Lindsay Everard of Ratcliffe Hall, who was President of the Royal Aero Club at one time. Ros was an experienced pilot, her home was in South Africa. Monique Agazarian ran a Link Trainer postwar, opposite Harrods in London. Before that she owned and operated her own airline, Island Air Services, out of Heathrow and Croydon Airports, I think to the Scilly Isles. Dominies I think she used. Mary Guthrie married Jock Cunningham, a friend of my cousin in the FAA; Jock was in the Navy, I think.
I’ve lost touch with Jean. Monique died last year, I think - she had the sound of a Merlin engine at her funeral service instead of a dirge - coming, passing, fading.”
- June Gummer, 1999.

Ground School - Copyright June Gummer, by permission of Wg Cdr Alan Watkinson

(Sketch by June Howden, ATA 1944)


From the ATA Collection of Maidenhead Heritage Centre

Staff of the Initial Flying Training School, Barton in the Clay, 1944
L-R: Dennis Lead, Jack Marks, Hopkins, 'Bob' Ellis (adjutant), Bill Cowan, Jerry Polivka, John Adams (seconded from RAF), A.A. Ryner (engineer i.c.), Zuill (from Bermuda) and Codlin.
Picture by kind permission of the Maidenhead Heritage Centre

From the ATA Collection of Maidenhead Heritage Centre

Thame 1943
L-R: 1st Off. Paull, 1st Off. Chappell, 1st Off. Fazakarley, Flt.Capt. Sloper, Capt. Woods, 1st Off. Holloway, 2nd Off. Gauntlett, Flt. Capt. Edward Henry Robinson.
Picture by kind permission of the Maidenhead Heritage Centre

From the ATA Collection of Maidenhead Heritage Centre

Senior Officers of No5 Ferry Training Pool, (date unknown).
Back row - Section Officer Adams (Met office): Second Officer Roy Hargreaves (Operations): Flight Captain H Vallé (Operations): Flight Captain Frank Bourne (Flight Leader): Flight Captain E.C. Mogridge (Flight Leader): Section Officer W. Simpson (Met office): Flight Captain Jan Fossett (Flight Leader): First Officer Clark (Signals Officer)
Front Row - Captain A.G. Head (Second in Command): Commander Marc Hale (Commanding Officer): Flight Captain Susan Slade (Officer in charge of women personnel)
Picture by kind permission of the Maidenhead Heritage Centre



This Fairchild Argus was formerly FK330 of the ATA and flown from Haddenham, (see Daphne Rumball's logbook).
It now resides in Sydney, Australia and is currently being restored by John Gallagher.


















The Old Cider House - Copyright June Gummer, by permission of Wg Cdr Alan Watkinson

The Old Cider House - Haddenham.
(Sketch by June Howden, ATA 1944)

ODD ODE, An instructors lament.
Written by Vernon Willis

Those of us who were at Thame,
A grass airfield of Harvard fame.
From dawn to dusk, seven days a week,
As instructors worked – no ‘gongs’ to seek.

Training our pupils for fighters fast.
Sighs of relief …. ‘first hurdle’s past!’
The school boss, Derek Pickup,
Saw things through without a hiccup.
His crew I state with modest pride;
ETTMPFG , the drill applied.

Let’s name a few who did their best
To pass their pupils with zeal and zest’.
‘Nobby’ Pearmund, Willis, ‘Fitz: and Coutts.
‘Popsy’ Leonard, Lambert – no line shoots!

So spare a thought for instructors flying
Rewarding work, ‘though sometimes trying.
Their names won’t be in the Hall of Fame
But they don’t care; They played the game!

Go back to Thame all these years on.
Pupils, aircraft, all have gone,
Now no Harvards can be found
But wait, there, on the breeze, a sound
An airscrew, set to ‘Pitch Full Fine;
Ghosts of school kites on the line.

Now long grass and weeds abound
This wartime, flying training ground.
So think awhile of days long gone.
Youth flees, but memories live on.

The poem above was sent to me by Derek Pearmund, son of 'Nobby'.
Vernon Willis passed away in 2004 before we found out he had written this.

See also the poem at the end of the Glider Training chapter.


Sequence of Instruction at IFTS

1. Familiarity with cockpit lay out and preparation for flight

2. Air experience

3. Effect of controls

4. Taxying

5. Straight and level flight

6. Climbing

7. Descending

8. Stalling

9. Medium turns

10. Gliding and climbing turns

11. Taking off into wind

12. Glide approach and landing

13. Power approach and landing

14. Mislanding

15. Spinning

16. First solo

17. Sideslipping

18. Steep turns

19. Low flying

20. Taking off and landing out of wind

21. Precautionary landings and bad weather circuit

22. Forced landings

23. Action in the event of fire

24. Re-starting engine in flight

25. Flying at low cruising speed

26. Runway landings

27. Compass errors and turning on courses

28. Map reading practices

29. Dual cross country practices

30. Solo cross country practices

31. Back seat circuit (Class 2 only)

32. Proficiency check




In The Beginning




Glider Training




Ferry Pilots


Closing Down


Airtech Ltd


Motorcycle Racing


Arms Smuggling etc


Upward Bound

Acknowledgements, Bibliography, Links, Files Etc


©Copyright Peter Chamberlain, 2009,2010, 2011