ATA Girl
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ATA Girl

Story in One Sentence:

A British socialite becomes a famous World War II transport pilot.

Story Synopsis:

Diana Barnato Walker occupied an almost legendary position in the world of aviation: as well as being one of a handful of “Ata girls”, women who served during the war as ATA (Air Transport Auxiliary) pilots delivering newly-built and battle-ready aircraft to airfields all over southern England, in 1963 she became the first woman in the world to break the sound barrier.

The diminutive socialite granddaughter of a South African diamond millionaire, before the war Diana Barnato was well known in London for her high spirits and for late nights spent at the Embassy or 400 Club in London. She was also known for the Bentley which she was given for her 21st birthday - a gift from her doting father, the motor-racing champion Woolf “Babe” Barnato.

In 1938, looking for new excitement, she decided to try her hand at flying and gained her licence after only six hours’ training. Three years later, she abandoned her affluent lifestyle to rough it in the ATA. By the age of 22 she had delivered 240 Spitfires and many other aircraft and narrowly survived several brushes with death.

 

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