Mary Ellis, who flew Spitfires and bombers during World War II, has died at age 101. Ellis was one of 168 women who flew for the Air Transport Auxiliary, which employed civilians to deliver planes from factories to airfields. Nearly 10 percent of the ATA’s pilots were killed during the war, including aviation pioneer Amy Johnson, according to the BBC. After the ATA was disbanded in 1945, Ellis flew for the Royal Air Force, where she was one of the first women to fly the Gloster Meteor, Britain’s first jet fighter. After leaving the service, she became manager of the Sandown Airport, on the Isle of Wight, and lived there with her husband, Don, a fellow pilot, who died in 2009.
Ellis continued to live at the airport and was still driving daily to the local shops at age 101. “Being an ATA pilot was fantastic,” she said in 2016, when she and fellow ATA pilot Joy Lofthouse were honored by the royal family in London. “Up in the air on your own. And you can do whatever you like. I flew 400 Spitfires. And occasionally I would take one up and go and play with the clouds. I would like to do it all over again. There was a war on, but otherwise it was absolutely wonderful.”