Remembrance Day is also a time to reflect on the role civilian pilots played in World War II, especially those hired by the Ferry Command. They helped establish a vital air link between aircraft production facilities in North America and the U.K. or even North Africa.
Male and female civilian pilots became part of the solution to provide the RAF and Allied Forces with badly needed aircraft of various types and roles to face and repel the German onslaught from European skies. Because of the shortage of trained military pilots for aerial combat and other flying missions, civilian pilots played a key role in ferrying newly-built military aircraft.
Their contribution to the War Effort is well documented by JunoBeach.org as well as, in the case of female civilian pilots, by the Women’s Auxiliary Ferrying Squadron (WAFS). A smaller group of female civilian pilots was also known as “Spitfire Women“. In general, female civilian pilots ferried quite a variety of military aircraft with little time to become acquainted with new aircraft types before undertaking their journey across the North Atlantic.
For many civilian pilots involved in ferrying military aircraft, flying the Spitfire was considered as the ultimate assignment because the Spitfire was viewed as one of the most advanced military aircraft at the time, and still is nowadays for non-military purposes, in terms of single piston-engine aircraft.
Today, November 11, 2011, this blogger salutes civilian pilots who took the gamble again and again of ferrying military aircraft during World War II, mainly over the North Atlantic to their assigned destination in England, in all sorts of weather conditions. Not all returned alive, needless to say.