For myself, when I am ninety-two years old, I honestly hope I still have the mental acuity and kinesthetic awareness to be able to fly an airplane. I look to greats like Bob Hoover and Chuck Yeager as inspiration, as I’ve had the honor and privilege of seeing them both fly. Now, I can add a new name to that list: Joy Lofthouse.
Miss Lofthouse was a part of the Air Transport Auxiliary, the British equivalent to our Women Air Service Pilots (WASP) program during World War II. The “ATA Girls” consisted of 168 women specially selected for the duty and ferried combat aircraft from the assembly line to the front lines for the Royal Air Force.
The ATA pilots had to accumulate more training hours than their male counterparts prior to taking the controls of any aircraft. Approximately one in ten of them died during their service, flying aircraft that were equipped with neither radios nor armament. Lofthouse was a Supermarine Spitfire pilot, describing the aircraft as “the nearest things to having wings of your own.”
To commemorate Victory in Europe Day in England on May 8th, Miss Lofthouse was afforded the opportunity to once again fly a Spit, this time a dual-control variant with another pilot along for the ride.
“It’s incredible to be in a Spitfire again after so long,” Lofthouse said. “I’m so lucky to be able to fly it again.”
Lucky for us, there were cameras aboard, so we’re able to hear the howl of the Rolls-Royce engine and share in the joy of her return home–taking to the sky in her favorite aircraft.
What could possibly be better after seventy years of not flying one?!
(Featured photo courtesy of WikiMedia Commons)