North Vancouver resident Jaye Edwards, the second last living members of Britain’s Air Transport Auxiliary in the Second World War, died at the age of 103 in her retirement home on Aug. 15. Edwards was one of 168 women in the ATA who ferried aircraft for the RAF. They were known as the Attagirls. It was a job that was sometimes as dangerous as combat. A total of 150 ATA pilots died on duty, 15 of them women. With Edwards’ death, only American Nancy Stratford remains.
Edwards, a self-described ‘renegade’ who got her private licence the day after war was declared, and joined the ATA in 1943, flew 20 different types including such challenging aircraft as the Barracuda dive bomber. Her favourite was the Hurricane. “I felt it was friendly,” she said. She never flew after the war ended but moved to North Vancouver in 1948 and planted deep roots with a family, a teaching career and a love of the outdoors. She told interviewers in 2018 that she loved the peace of flying even though her country was at war. “You were doing a job and yet it was such a pleasure. It was unbelievable, almost,” she said. “To get up and get into the sunshine and the blue sky, it was peaceful.”