Pauline Gower - Ladies of the ATA

Pauline Gower, Commandant of the Air Transport Auxiliary Women's Section, waving from the cockpit of a de Havilland Tiger Moth at Hatfield, Hertfordshire, prior to a delivery flight, 10 January 1940.
© IWM (C 380)

Pauline Gower

In 1931 Pauline, who was fascinated by flying, at the age of 21 formed a joy-riding and air taxi service and was reckoned to have piloted more than 33,000 passengers during this time. In 1932 she toured the country with an Air Circus, giving joy rides at air pageants to raise money for British hospitals. The creator of Biggles, Captain W E Johns created the character Worrals, based on Pauline Gower and Amy Johnson. Her achievements were not just limited to flying – she was a member of the Women’s Engineering Society, the first woman to be awarded a 2nd class navigator’s licence, and in 1938, was appointed a civil defence commissioner in the Civil Air Guard. Her book on women in aviation – “Women with Wings” was published that year.

At the outbreak of the Second World War, Pauline proposed the establishment of the women’s section of the Air Transport Auxiliary (ATA) and was appointed to lead the section, appointing the first eight women in January 1940.

Pauline Gower received an MBE for her services in 1942, but sadly died later in 1947 at age 36.

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