Eleanor Wadsworth: Britain's last surviving woman Spitfire pilot dies

A woman from Bury St Edmunds who flew fighter planes during World War II has died, aged 103.

Eleanor Wadsworth worked for the Air Transport Auxiliary (ATA), responsible for moving planes from factories to airfields across the country.

In total she flew 22 types of aircraft, including Hurricanes and Spitfires, the latter becoming her favourite.

Speaking to ITV Anglia in 2018, she said: "[They had a] beautiful, throbbing engine in the front. It was so responsive, light to the touch. Like a beautiful sports car really."

While women were not allowed to fly planes for the RAF, 168 were employed by the ATA during the Second World War, the cohort becoming known as 'ATA-girls'.

Watch: ITV Anglia's Malcolm Robertson went to meet Eleanor in 2018

Author and historian Karen Borden said: "I'm so sad to hear about the passing of Eleanor Wadsworth, the last surviving British female ATA pilot.

"I had the great privilege of spending time with Eleanor, recording an oral history, as part of the research for my current book. An articulate, spirited, wonderful woman.

"What was truly remarkable was that perpetual ATA spirit that the women felt they hadn't done anything out of the ordinary.

"Eleanor repeated often in our conversation that she didn't think people would be interested after all the time that had passed."

Eleanor kept her log book detailing all her wartime flights Credit: ITV Anglia

The Defence Secretary Ben Wallace has also paid tribute to Eleanor.

He said: "Eleanor Wadsworth led the fullest of lives, throughout her career, family, and volunteering to serve in 1939.

"She did so in pioneering fashion, flying 600 hours in 22 aircraft.

"It was ordinary people doing extraordinary things that defeated fascism and we should never forget Eleanor's example and achievements."

Eleanor finished flying following the war, and moved to Suffolk with her husband Bernard. They spent the rest of their lives in Bury St Edmunds, where they had two sons together.

Eleanor Wadsworth flew 132 Spitfires during the Second World War Credit: ITV Anglia