Air Transport Auxiliary Brooch
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Pilot’s wings in platinum set with diamonds, entered on a royal blue enamel oval overlaid with the letters ATA in platinum, and surrounded by diamonds.
The Air Transport Auxiliary (A.T.A) was the 1300-strong civilian organisation set up at the start of the Second World War to ferry new, repaired and damaged military aircraft between factories, transatlantic delivery points, maintenance units and active service squadrons. A.T.A. pilots had no recourse to armed defence but after an encounter with German fighters in U.K. air space, the mid-upper gun turrets of Avro Anson transports were manned.
Second Officer Jadwiga Piłsudska at White Waltham in March 1943 wearing the ATA's cloth pilot's wings
A.T.A. pilots ferried service personnel on urgent duty and performed some air ambulance work. Notably there were 166 women pilots, one in eight of all A.T.A. pilots. They volunteered from Britain, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, the United States, the Netherlands, Poland, Argentina and Chile. Fifteen of these lost their lives in the air, including the British pioneer aviatrix Amy Johnson. From 1943 the A.T.A.’s women pilots received equal pay to their male colleagues.