On 2 February Mary Ellis will celebrate her centenary.
Among the many birthday cards will be one from the Queen. It promises to be a special day.
Here is Mary pictured last year, receiving her MASTER AIR PILOT certificate from Air Commodore Rick Peacock-Edwards, of the Honourable Company of Air Pilots. The ceremony at Cowes was organised by Derek Hermiston-Hooper of the Royal Flying Corps and Royal Naval Air Service Association.
A recent biography by Melody Foreman of Mary was published under the book title, ‘A Spitfire Girl’, subtitled ‘One of the world’s greatest female ATA ferry pilots tells her story.’
During the war, Mary flew in excess of one thousand aircraft of all types to RAF stations and repair units across Britain. Of that number, more than four hundred were Spitfires. After the war Mary was Commandant of Sandown Airport.
Derek Hermiston-Hooper’s godmother was the flying legend Amy Johnson. Amy was a good friend of his mother Gladys. On 16 February, Derek will be giving a talk on the life and times of Amy Johnson and Jim Mollison.
Derek himself had a distinguished flying career. Among other things, he piloted a Halifax in the Berlin Airlift of 1948-1949.
This 1998 commemorative Royal Mail stamp was given to me by another ATA pilot, Peggy Lucas. Peggy was a friend of Mary. They were based at Hamble together. Peggy’s story will be added here soon
In November last year the suggestion was made by Solent Aviatrix, through the columns of the Isle of Wight County Press, that the Island should honour Mary by giving her the Freedom of the Wight. Watch this space for news on that.