At the Northern Power Women Awards 2019, Tricia Williams of Manchester Airports Group took to the stage at Manchester Central. Tricia expressed how proud she was that MAG is Northern Power Women Awards headline sponsor, as powerful women have played a key role in the airport’s history. Have you heard of The Attagirls? Tricia shared their important and critical role during the second world war with 800 guests that were inspired by what they achieved. Air Transport Auxiliary was a civilian organisation made up of RAF pilots. This organisation had a difference for the time ‚Äì many of its pilots were women. These women were nicknamed The Attagirls.
The first delivery flown by the Attagirls was on 10th January 1940. At the time having female pilots in British Royal Air Force was out of the question, but due to the shortage of male pilots released for combat, women were recruited to fly planes and history was made.
At first, the women were restricted to fly single engine plans but by November 1939 the Attagirls flew Spitfires, Hurricanes and four-engine bomber planes from airfield to airfield (including Manchester Airport), in dangerous, wartime conditions. In a 2014 interview, Attagirl Joy Lofthouse recalled flying eighteen different types of planes with only a compass and no radio contact with the ground – a place where no man could interfere. ‚Äú”It really was the best job to have during the war because it was exciting, and we could help the war effort. In many ways, we were trailblazers for female pilots in the RAF.‚Äù
Women from all over the world came to England to join Joy and the Attagirls, including American Jackie Cochran as in America, women were still not permitted to fly in combat aircraft.
The Attagirls where women who broke down gender stereotypes and pioneered for equal pay. This was the first time that the British government delivered equal pay for equal work, however, it only lasted until the war was over. The Attagirls thought ‚Äúwe can‚Äù and achieved amazing things despite oppression and aversion due to their gender, much like those who were shortlisted for a Northern Power Women Award. Every woman who stands up for inequality and works towards a more fair society is campaigning with the spirit of the Attagirls.