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Mary Ellis, ATA, RIP

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Mary Ellis, ATA, RIP

Old 26th Jul 2018, 08:52
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Mary Ellis, ATA, RIP

Very sad to see that Mary Ellis has died aged 101. What a wonderful woman and what a life she had.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-44962253

I think it was her who served us with a cup of tea and a slice of cake at Sandown about 30 years ago. I had no idea back then who she was...
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Old 26th Jul 2018, 09:04
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I echo your comments
I first met Mary in the early/mid 1960s when she used to operate the "Sandown Homer" initially a manual DF station later updated to a CRDF.
Her calm voice was very soothing when you were trying to fly a VDF approach "under the hood"
A wonderful Lady in every sense of the word.
A life well lived.
Fly High Ma'am
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Old 26th Jul 2018, 09:13
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Yes, what an amazing woman. Totally self-effacing and without any edge at all.
I was first privileged to meet her in about 1955 when, as a teenager, I was flown into Sandown by a neighbour in an Auster J1 from Leicester East. She was very chatty and very proud of ‘her’ airfield.
The conversation was cut short by the arrival of another ex-ATA pilot in an Anson from Staverton. She was obviousl pleased to see him ! What a cameraderie they enjoyed.
I last spoke to her a few years ago when they all staged through White Waltham, being coached to Downing Street to receive their ‘medals’ from Gordon Brown. We managed to get a large number of wartime aircraft together to celebrate their eventual recognition. Somewhere I have a photo of Cliff Spink chatting to a couple of the girls from the cockpit of a Spitfire. I’ll post it later if I can find it. Magic........
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Old 26th Jul 2018, 09:42
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She indeed she was a lovely lady. Back in the '70's I would occasionally fly one of my staff down to Sandown from Blackbush as a bit of a treat. At that time Sandown was PPR and when I phoned for such I believe it was mostly Mary that answered. I was never refused and sometimes on landing and parking up we were also offered a cup of tea. I was years later that I came to realise who Mary really was and her past history. If only I had known then I would have many questions to ask her. Yes an amazing lady who will be sadly missed. RIP Mary.
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Old 26th Jul 2018, 10:06
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I wonder if I can post this without implying any disrespect at all. First of all I agree with and echo the sentiments already stated about this remarkable lady, may she rest in peace.
.
However if I may return to a drum I have banged many times before. Why do we never hear anything about the male ATA pilots, who after all made up over 80% of that organisation? Has anyone ever seen an obituary for one, or ever seen one interviewed on TV etc? Could anyone actually name one? They seem to be the "forgotten men" of WW2 aviation, which is a shame.
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Old 26th Jul 2018, 10:13
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I think Mary's husband Don was one ?

Off the top of my head, Philip Wills and John Jordan were both ATA.
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Old 26th Jul 2018, 10:44
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Originally Posted by Tankertrashnav View Post
I wonder if I can post this without implying any disrespect at all. First of all I agree with and echo the sentiments already stated about this remarkable lady, may she rest in peace.
.
However if I may return to a drum I have banged many times before. Why do we never hear anything about the male ATA pilots, who after all made up over 80% of that organisation? Has anyone ever seen an obituary for one, or ever seen one interviewed on TV etc? Could anyone actually name one? They seem to be the "forgotten men" of WW2 aviation, which is a shame.
TTN a friend of mine's father was an ATA pilot. The story goes he was thrown out of the RAF just before the war because of some misdemeanor (he was a trained pilot so must have been pretty bad at the time). He joined the ATA and I saw his logbook (he flew many types including up to 8 different ones in a day IIRC). Until his death some years ago he was a regular with the BBMF (He took a bit of a shine to the then Flt Lt Parkinson, who was always very generous with his time I'm told).

He actually has Duxford's Lancaster in his log book too! Something I get reminded of by his son as I was privileged to be able to show our visitors around it.
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Old 26th Jul 2018, 12:11
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According to Wiki, she flew 76 different types of aircraft during WW2.

I assume that that number included different marks of the same aircraft, but maybe it was completely different types. Where there that many different aircraft produced during that period?

However, we won’t see the likes of her type again. An inspiration to any budding aviator.
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Old 26th Jul 2018, 13:01
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Farewell, Ma’am ... one of an incredible bunch of aviators of both genders.
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Old 26th Jul 2018, 13:06
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Saintsman yr. last

"Where (sic) there that many different aircraft produced during that period"?
There certainly were.
Just Wiki the list of the 487 types flown by Eric Winkle Brown and then discount the Axis types, and the post WW2 types, and you will find that the late Mary (and her wonderful ATA peers) had plenty of choice.
76 types - no problem.

Ian BB
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Old 26th Jul 2018, 15:33
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flying
Originally Posted by Ian Burgess-Barber View Post
Saintsman yr. last

"Where (sic) there that many different aircraft produced during that period"?
There certainly were.
Just Wiki the list of the 487 types flown by Eric Winkle Brown and then discount the Axis types, and the post WW2 types, and you will find that the late Mary (and her wonderful ATA peers) had plenty of choice.
76 types - no problem.

Ian BB
I think you will find that she flew on with the RAF rather than the ATA after the end of hostilities this included Meteors and Vamps.
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Old 26th Jul 2018, 15:58
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DODGYOLDFART yr. last

"I think you will find that she flew on with the RAF rather than the ATA after the end of hostilities this included Meteors and Vamps".

Thanks for that info. - so even more opportunities to add to her bag of wartime types and achieve the total of 76. All respect to her. (Bit of dust in the air around here tonight).

Ian BB
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Old 26th Jul 2018, 16:24
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Some of my earliest childhood memories include Mary Wilkins, as she was then. Mary was firmly of the opinion "It's an aeroplane, you're a pilot, go and fly it". One day, my dad and I flew down to Sandown and in passing he told Mary he was thinking of getting a twin. Quick as a flash, Mary was out from behind the bar "You haven't done your twin conversion yet have you? I've got a Rapide outside, let's go flying". So off we went, Dad in the front, with Mary standing behind the single pilot's seat and me in the back, after a few circuits Mary said "you're alright" and sent him off solo to see a friend of hers, somewhere on the south coast, who signed him off. Different times.

I lost touch for many years but flew into Sandown ten years ago and there was Mary, in a little wooden hut, selling pleasure flights. She remembered me immediately and her memories of the late fifties and early sixties were clearer than mine.

Today is a very sad day.
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Old 26th Jul 2018, 16:31
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Respect!

RIP Ma'am.
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Old 26th Jul 2018, 16:58
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Another ATA pilot was Jenny Broad. Jenny ended her days on Norfolk Island where she ran a little shop selling fabrics and soft wares. She had written a letter to AEROPLANE MONTHLY round about 1982. Having read that letter and concurrently spending many a night on that interesting island, (thanks to the airline I worked for), I called by her A-Frame premises one morning to have a chat. She seemed to be having an off day and certainly did not want to talk about the war. So I bought a tea towel and bid her farewell.
(Fortunately there were other veterans of the air force and the war who were more forthcoming, and happy to be recorded for an oral history program with which I was involved.) How moving to read here the tributes to Mary Ellis. As Bishop Wright said upon the death of his son, Wilbur, "A life of many consequences".
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Old 26th Jul 2018, 17:35
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Utter respect.

Jump into any aeroplane with just the notes and no dual and get airborne. Then find your destination visually and land the bloody thing.

I would wager that no modern "children of the magenta line" would have a clue.

dook - ex-RAF
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Old 26th Jul 2018, 18:15
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And all without a radio. No wonder so many ATA pilots were killed when the weather closed in.

Truly the greatest generation.
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Old 26th Jul 2018, 19:42
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One of my favourite Mary Ellis stories relates to a conversation concerning the many different types she had flown, most of these being tail-draggers.
The question was asked of her 'So what was the first tricycle u/c type you flew'? (the expected response being some early spam-cam).

After a short pause Mary replied I believe it was a B-25 Mitchell!

A privilege to have met her on several occasions.
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Old 26th Jul 2018, 21:46
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I only met Mary once, some 10 years ago and was mesmerised by her enthusiasm and joie de vivre. Probably the only time that I have wished that I was 30 years older!!

Reach out and touch the face!

Mog



Last edited by Mogwi; 4th Aug 2018 at 16:06. Reason: Age!
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Old 3rd Aug 2018, 23:43
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Interesting obit in The Economist - their obit writer is very good, but there are some interesting flights of fancy in this one:

https://www.economist.com/obituary/2...d-on-july-24th
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