Magnificent women in their flying machines brought to life at RAF Cosford

Living History

An exhibition at the Cosford attraction will look at the role played by of women aviators, including the tragic story of Amy Johnson, who set numerous long-distance records during the 1930s and flew in the Second World War as part of the Air Transport Auxiliary.

Johnson was a regular and popular visitor to wartime RAF Cosford, which carved its own place in women’s aviation history by becoming the home of one of only two all-woman ATA units in Britain.

Theses women pilots were tasked with flying Spitfires and other aircraft to where they were needed.

It was run by Mrs Marion Wilberforce and many of the small pool of women pilots, who came from all over the world, had to have cushions to make sure they could reach the rudder pedals.

There were many visiting ATA pilots to the Shropshire base, and among them in the early war years was Amy Mollinson – better known as Amy Johnson – who had become a household name, and had a pre-war connection with the county as a member of the Midland Gliding Club on the Long Mynd.

But it was a story to end in tragedy, as she was killed in January 1941 when her aircraft crashed into the River Thames during an ATA flight.

The focus on Johnson will be part of a programme of events at the museum celebrating some of aviation’s most inspirational women, running from May 27 to 31.

Taking place in the museum’s Hangar One at 11am and 2pm each day, a news reporter will interview “Amy” about her childhood, gaining her pilot’s licence and attempting to break the world record flying to Australia.

The future of women in aviation will be represented by three female museum apprentices who will be working on panels from the Handley Page Hampden currently being restored at the museum.

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