The Spitfire Society sends its condolences to the family and friends of Joy and a full obituary will be added to the website in due course.
Joy Lofthouse (nee Gough) was born in Cirencester on 14 February 1923 and also had a sister Yvonne who incidentally would also join the Air Transport Auxiliary with her as a pilot. Attended at Cirencester Grammar School and worked at Lloyds Bank as a cashier but saw an advert in 1943 appealing for people to join the ATA and they would be fully trained as pilots. Yvonne also applied, partly as a response to the death of her husband whilst serving in Bomber Command and wished to make a contribution to Britain’s war effort. Remarkably both sisters were successful in gaining entry out of 2,000 applications and would join 162 other female pilots ferrying aircraft from the factories to operational squadrons in the Royal Air Force. The female branch of ATA was formed on the 1 January 1940 at the behest of Pauline Gower and the service would deliver some 300,000 aircraft during the course of the War and would also achieve equal pay with their male colleagues, a significant development in its self. Joy learnt to fly 18 types of aircraft and had a particular affinity for the Spitfire and considered it as ‘close to growing wings and flying yourself’.
After the War, Joy married Jiri Hartman, a former Czech fighter pilot and brought up three children. She later married Squadron Leader Charles Lofthouse in 1971 after her first marriage ended in divorce. Charles was a former Pathfinder Lancaster pilot and sadly died in 2002. In more recent years reconnected with her wartime experiences. Gordon Brown as Prime Minister honoured all ATA pilots with a commemorative badge in 2008 and Joy along with Yvonne attended the Battle of Britain airshow at Cotswold Airport the following year. Boultbee Flight Academy gave Joy a flight in their two seat Spitfire at Goodwood aerodrome in May 2015 and became the centre of attention at Wimbledon tennis tournament in July of last year after appearing in the Royal Box and her exploits explained to the cheering crowds. She also made a notable appearance at the Festival of Remembrance held at the Royal Albert Hall in November 2016. It was with sadness that the Society learnt of her passing on 15 November 2017. Joy’s service in the ATA was both remarkable in learning to fly from scratch and then to fly high performance aircraft with little in the way of dual instruction or training. Aircraft had to be ferried in all weathers and no navigational or radio aids that pilots enjoy today which led to many ATA pilots being killed during the War. With this in mind Joy should be rightly remembered for her skill and courage in contributing to Britain’s war effort.