ATA Girl is a drama inspired by the real women of the Air Transport Auxiliary during WWII. From the UK and beyond, 168 female pilots, alongside the men, transported a vast range of aircraft from the factories to the squadrons, sometimes flying in perilous weather conditions and without radios or instrument instruction.
One in 10 ATA pilots died. Told as a series of reminiscences from (fictitious) former pilot Amelia Curtis, the stories aim to honour these unsung heroes of WWII, whose shared passion for flying contributed so much to the war effort and who represented one of the first examples of ‘equality in the workplace’ for women in the UK.
1.1 'Up in the Air' by Gemma Page. It’s March 1944, and young widow Daphne Coyne arrives at the Air Transport Auxiliary, having signed up to train as a new pilot. Already unsure of her decision, she is shocked to find that her estranged younger sister, Rebecca, has also joined the ATA, hoping for a chance of reconciliation. As Daphne grows close to her flying instructor, the injured former RAF pilot, David, and discovers an unexpected passion for flying, the two sisters try to navigate their broken relationship. But David has family trapped in Belgium, and Daphne has a plan that could jeopardise all of their futures....
1.2 'Dancing with a Spitfire' by Victoria Saxton. In 1942, Glamorous ‘It Girl’ Second Officer Mina Lauderdale is enjoying her work with the ATA, flying her aircraft recklessly and living up to her nickname, ‘The Wildcard’! However, amidst all of the press attention, the partying and the endless flirting, Mina is secretly running away from an unwanted destiny. It’s only when she meets outspoken US pilot Jeanette that Mina finally begins to discover her true self and face up to the reality of whom she wants to be.
1.3 'Flying Blind' by Helen Goldwyn. 1942-43, Judith Heathcote has been with the ATA since the start and is one of the few mothers in the Corps. With her husband ‘missing, presumed dead’ and her daughter living with her parents, Judith is beginning to question the sacrifices she’s making for the war effort. Seen as a maternal figure by many of her colleagues, it seems that Judith looks out for everyone but herself. So when a chance of happiness arises, she seizes upon it, only to find herself caught up in a series of events that propel her towards an unthinkable solution.
1.4 'Grounded' by Jane Slavin. It’s early 1945. The end of the war is closer than the pilots realise, but meanwhile there is an unexpected air raid to contend with. When the sirens sound at the ATA ferry pool, the women have to find a way to protect themselves and each other, some making it to the bomb shelter whilst others are trapped above. Elsewhere, RAF pilot Walter (already traumatised by his war experience) has come to seek solace with ATA pilot Amelia. She and her best friend Widdley do their best to comfort him, but with war still raging around them, they are reminded of losses suffered...and losses still to come....
Directed by Louise Jameson
Produced by David Richardson
Executive Producers: Nicholas Briggs and Jason Haigh-Ellery
"This is a unique production from Big Finish. A full complement of female writers, combined with a mainly female cast, a female director and a female producer, creates a distinct portrayal of these courageous women. The stories never falter into melodrama but show the stoic strength of these independent and daring pilots.... ATA Girl surprised me with the depth of honesty and grit. It is a beautiful homage to the brave women of the ATA." (Blogtor Who)
"ATA Girl is not just a history lesson, but a fine drama that feels searingly alive, and it’s among the best work that Big Finish have done for some time. I would wholeheartedly encourage anyone to give it a listen." (The Digital Fix)