One of the last surviving female World War Two pilots, Mary Ellis has died aged 101 at her home on the Isle of Wight.
After responding to a radio appeal for female pilots, she was responsible for delivering Spitfires and bombers to the frontline.
She joined the Air Transport Auxiliary in 1941 and during the conflict flew around 1,000 planes. After, she moved to the Isle of Wight to manage Sandown airport for 20 years.
Ellis was awarded the freedom of the Isle of Wight earlier this year – described by the council leader, Dave Stewart, as a “national, international and island heroine”.
- Tributes have been paid to “one of Britain’s greatest aviators.”
The television presenter, Dan Snow, took his children to meet her last week and described the emotional meeting where she shared "a few private thoughts about" the iconic Spitfire.
The head of the RAF, Air Chief Marshal Sir Stephen Hillier, tweeted: “Another terrible loss. Mary Ellis, pioneering female aviator, Air Transport Auxiliary veteran, an inspiration to generations.
”I'll always remember her proudly reminding us at RAF100 events that she was older than the RAF itself! RIP Mary.“
Red Arrows pilot Mike Ling also tweeted a tribute, saying: ”More awful news. RIP Mary Ellis.
“A legend of the Air Transport Auxiliary. Over 1000 aircraft; 76 different types and over 400 Spitfires alone."
RAF veteran Sally McGlone said: ”RIP Mary Ellis, you have inspired so many women to fly.
“You will always be remembered, with love and thanks. Blue Skies Thank You. Aetheris Avidi - Eager for the Air.”
Historian James Holland paid tribute to her and Geoffrey Wellum, one of the youngest Spitfire pilots to have fought in the Battle of Britain, who died last week at the age of 96.
Ellis was born in Oxfordshire in 1917 and enjoyed flying aircrafts as a hobby until the war began where a civilian flying ban was enacted.
She was encouraged when the ATA appealed for female pilots in 1941 - a total of 168 women served during the war, 15 died in the conflict.