New plaque to honour brave aircrews

Martin Nicholson (right) with the uniform he donated to the museum with collections manager Dr John Wright. The mannequin wears the uniform of ATA pilot Lettice Curtis, who was an early patron of the Allied Air Forces Memorial and Yorkshire Air Museum.
Martin Nicholson (right) with the uniform he donated to the museum with collections manager Dr John Wright. The mannequin wears the uniform of ATA pilot Lettice Curtis, who was an early patron of the Allied Air Forces Memorial and Yorkshire Air Museum.

Elvington-based Yorkshire Air Museum is set to unveil and formally dedicate a new plaque to honour the brave and daring aircrews of an organisation set up during the Second World War.

The plaque is a tribute to the Air Transport Auxiliary, which was made up of men and women who undertook the often hazardous task of delivering aircraft from manufacture or repair to their service squadrons. The practice was known as ‘ferrying’, and the pilots may have never flown a particular aircraft type before being required to deliver it. To fly the aircraft, they had to refer to the famous ‘Ferry Pilots Notes’, a basic instruction manual of all types that eventually flew with the RAF and other services during World War Two.

The plaque will be unveiled on Saturday (11 April) by Air Transport Auxiliary veteran Martin Nicholson, who is one of the organisation’s approximately 12 known surviving aircrew.

However, other members of the Air Transport Auxiliary Association, mostly direct descendants of aircrew, will gather at the museum from other parts of the country to witness the unveiling.

Ian Reed, Museum Director said: “We are delighted to have been asked to add this memorial to the nation’s Allied Air Forces Memorial, and that these rare veterans like Martin are able to join us to recognise this important chapter in our history. The museum has previously recognised the women pilots of the Air Transport Auxiliary within our Women’s Air Services Memorial, but this now includes the men as well. The women stole the glamour within the media but the men made up the bulk of the service.”

The ceremony will start at 1.30pm in the Memorial Garden.

The aircraft Nimrod MR2 XV250 is celebrating the fifth anniversary of its arrival to the museum with two high-speed taxi runs down the runway after the unveiling ceremony. Other aircraft engine power ups, including World War One fighters, the De Havilland Devon twin prop and the Victor V-Bomber XL231 ‘Lusty Lindy’ will take place during the day.