W.51 * First Officer  Mrs Benedetta Willis 
 flag UK  b. 25 Jan 1914, Famagusta, Cyprus 1 Sep 1941 to Aug 1943 

 benedetta day 1937 RAeC 1937

   ATAM    

 

née Day

Father: George Albert 'Bert' Day, a civil engineer; mother Eva, of Bridge Cottage, Chertsey

She sailed to the UK with her parents, sister Pamela, brother Anthony and a servant in 1924, aged 10

She sailed alone to visit Malta from Jul to Sep 1932

 

She bought G-AAIU, a 1929 DH 60G Gipsy Moth which she called 'Vagabond'. 

m. 1938 in Loleham-on-Thames, Middlesex Charles Henry Willis, who had been her instructor at the Insurance Flying Club. He had competed in the 1937 King's Cup, coming 11th out of 27.

She sold 'Vagabond' to the Cotswold Aircraft Co after her marriage, and it was scrapped in Feb 1939.

They then ordered G-AFRJ, a 1939 DH.94 Moth Minor, but did not register it and it was sold to the RAAF as A21-9 and crashed in Aug 1944.

They had two children before WWII.

Prev: Architect's Assistant

prev. exp. Civil Air Guard


Postings: 15FPP

Charles joined the RAF, was awarded the AFC in 1940, and became a Squadron Leader.

[Contract Terminated by ATA, because she was pregnant]


  Daily Mirror - 7 Jun 1948

"They spent most of their anniversary in the air - Squadron Leader Willis giving flights to cadets and Benedetta doing forced landings in an exercise at Chobham, Surrey. The cadets soon found out about the anniversary, and they are seen above crowding around and cheering"

 

Awarded her RAF 'Wings' in August 1953, one of 5 women (all ex-ATA pilots) to do so when serving with the short-lived (1 Feb 1949 - 1954) Women's Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve. The others were Jean Bird, Jackie Moggridge, Freydis Leaf and Joan Hughes 

"Her husband is also a pilot. They have four children, two girls and two boys." "Her present relaxation is sailing"


d. Dec 2008 - Bembridge, IoW


 interviewed here: https://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/80008287

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