W.126 3rd Officer 

Stella Joyce Petersen 

(Jaye Edwards)

 flag england   b. 12 Oct 1918, Wandsworth, London 1 Jul 1943 to 30 Sep 1945 


stella petersen 1939   RAeC 1939


W126 Petersen Stella  ATA 



[Father John Richard Sydney Petersen was born in 1876 in NSW, Australia; mother Stella C [Dawson]]


Living with her parents in Wokingham, Berks, she gained her RAeC certificate on 16 Aug 1939 at the Romford Flying Club, in a DH Moth.

prev. a nurse at Westminster Hospital

Address in 1943: Park Prewett, Basingstoke, Hants

 Two accidents, both her fault:

- 19 Oct 1943, when she undershot her landing approach in Magister R1887, struck a tree, crashed, and the aircraft was written off

- 23 Oct 1944, in Spitfire IX TA855; she made a heavy landing and the undercarriage collapsed.


Travelled to Malaya in May 1946, then from Sydney, Australia, to Vancouver B.C. in Aug-Sep 1948

In 1950, qualified as a teacher.

m. c. 1951 William Austin? 'Bill' Edwards, "an electrician and former lumberjack" (d. 1988?)


ata jaye edwards 2018 

Jaye Edwards, as she became known, sitting next to Julie Payette, the Governor General of Canada, at a reception in celebration of her 100th birthday. [Photo courtesy Jaye's neice Ann.] 

[Julie Payette (btw) was an astronaut and flew two missions in space; she also served many years as CAPCOM (Capsule Communicator) at NASA’s Mission Control Center in Houston, Texas, and was Chief Astronaut for the Canadian Space Agency.]


d. 15 Aug 2022, aged 103


 From her obituary in The Times:

"She was gratified when the British government in 2008 belatedly awarded a commemorative “veteran’s badge” to those who had served in the ATA, but spoke matter-of-factly of her contribution to the war effort.

“Planes are built to fly and I knew the planes I was flying were in good shape. They were being sent to be used,” she said with the ‘keep calm and carry on’ pragmatism of so many of her generation.

She was on a train to Manchester returning from delivering a plane when she heard the news that the war in Europe had ended. She admitted that she had mixed feelings. There was relief that no more lives would be lost, of course; but sadness because she knew it meant that she had flown her last flight and that the ATA would be disbanded. “I was sorry because I knew that was the end of flying,” she said.

She was almost right but more than half a century later, when she was in her eighties, she was invited to take the controls of a small aircraft in mid-air over Canada, the country that she made her home for more than 70 years. 

She executed a perfect turn before returning the plane to its straight and level course. Yes, she had missed flying, she said. “But not really, because there was so much new to do. You take the opportunities that you get.”

In 2011, she returned to England to attend the opening of the ATA gallery and its “Grandma Flew Spitfires” display at the Maidenhead Heritage Centre, close to the auxiliary’s wartime headquarters at White Waltham, Berkshire. Her death leaves the 103-year-old American Nancy Stratford as the only surviving female ATA pilot.

The seeds of her love of flying were planted as a child when she was cycling around the Kent countryside and stumbled upon a visiting “air circus” that had been set up in a field. She was entranced by the exploits of the “barnstormer” stunt pilots. The adventures of pioneering prewar aviatrixes such as Amelia Earhart, Jean Batten and Amy Johnson, which she followed on newsreels in the local cinema, cemented her fascination.

She described a tomboy childhood, climbing trees and having adventures on her bike, and she saw flying as a continuation of her youthful desire not to be earthbound, both literally and metaphorically.

“I think I was always a bit wild,” she admitted. “You ride a bike, you climb a tree, you’re off the ground. I would say that’s mostly it. A new outlook; a new life.”


Download ATA Pilot Personal Record (.zip file):download grey

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