A real life Peggy Carter got back in the cockpit of a Spitfire recently and had a wonderful time getting back up into the sky. With the help of a co-pilot to handle takeoff and landing, 92 year-old Joy Lofthouse got to fly down memory lane at Boultbee Flight Academy in Chichester.
Lofthouse joined the Air Transport Auxiliary alongside her sister in 1943. Over the course of the war, they were part of the “Attagirls,” 143 female pilots who helped transport planes back and forth to the front lines. It was a dangerous job that not only put them on battlefronts but required a quick response time and the ability to absorb operating manuals and controls for planes they might not be familiar with.
Because of this, and the fact that the planes they were moving from one place to another were sometimes damaged and in need of repair, there was a very real high of casualty.
“It’s incredible to be in a Spitfire again after so long,” Lofthouse said during the flight. “I’m so lucky to have the chance to fly it again.”
The biggest difference she noted afterwards were the advancements in communication systems that allowed her to converse with her co-pilot. During World War II, there were no radios, and once a plane was in the air, pilots were surrounded only by silence. Unlike the comic book character women like the Attagirls would inspire, Lofthouse didn’t have a Strategic Scientific Reserve to turn to for employment.
As with many women who helped with the war effort, Lofthouse’s pilot career ended when the war was over. She became a teacher, and this was the first time in 70 years that she’s had the chance to get back into the sky.
The Captain America movies have given us snippets of Peggy Carter’s future, and I’m guessing we won’t be seeing her get into a cockpit or transport vehicle anytime soon. That said, it’s an inspiration to see women like Lofthouse get to fly again.