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Eleanor Wadsworth, Britain's last surviving female pilot from Second World War, dies aged 103



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Britain's last surviving female pilot from the Second World War has died.

Eleanor Wadsworth, who grew up in Nottingham but lived in Bury St Edmunds since 1956, died in December, just weeks after her 103rd birthday.

Eleanor was one of 166 women accepted on to the Air Transport Auxiliary's (ATA) trainee pilot scheme after war broke out in 1939.

Eleanor Wadsworth has died aged 103. Picture: Mecha Morton
Eleanor Wadsworth has died aged 103. Picture: Mecha Morton

Speaking to Suffolk News in 2018 ahead of her 101st birthday, she said she was one of the first six people to start the training.

"I put my name down without thinking anything else about it and was accepted after passing all the medical checks," she said.

Eleanor left Nottingham, her mother and her two younger siblings, Janet and George, and was sent to Haddenham Airfield in Buckinghamshire to start the first leg of her training.

Eleanor Wadsworth when she was a pilot in the 1940s.
Eleanor Wadsworth when she was a pilot in the 1940s.

There, she did meteorological training and learned about the various aircrafts and their inner workings.

The following years saw her posted to different ferry pools where she learned to fly the planes - her favourite of which was the Spitfire.

"People nearly always say Spitfire but it's because it was such a lovely piece of equipment with controls and responses like a beautiful sports car," she said.

At the end of the war in 1945, Eleanor's CV boasted 590 flying hours, 430 of which were flown solo, and 22 different types of aircraft, including Hurricanes, Tigermoths and Harvards.

Eleanor's flight log from her time as a pilot. Picture: Mecha Morton
Eleanor's flight log from her time as a pilot. Picture: Mecha Morton

Eleanor moved to Bury 11 years later with her husband Bernard and their two sons, George and Robert.

She also had five grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren.

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