Grandma flew Spitfires is the only exhibition in the world dedicated solely to the Air Transport Auxiliary (ATA), one of the forgotten stories of World War II. Our archive of photographs, documents, pilots’ logbooks and interviews with veterans is one of the largest anywhere, and has been digitised for ease of access by visitors.
The exhibition is also home to a fabulous Spitfire simulator!
Your visit to “Grandma Flew Spitfires” begins with a short introductory film before you move upstairs past photographs of some of the amazing men and women who made ATA such a success.
Our gallery has been packed with uniforms, flying equipment, navigation equipment and ATA memorabilia. Displays explain how ATA pilots came from 25 different countries, how they managed to fly so many different planes and how they flew all over Britain in a single day. Pilots’ log books are on display together with more than 150 photographs, and you can listen to recordings of ATA aircrew telling their own stories. If you want to explore ATA in more depth, computer terminals give access to filmed interviews, log books and historic photographs from the museum’s archive.
The large ATA collection includes:
- Over 130 pilot (male and female) and flight engineer log books, including those of Mary Ellis, who died in July 2018 aged 101.
- Hundreds of photographs, many from private collections
- Uniforms and flying clothing, including ladies uniforms worn by Ann Wood (USA), Mary Ellis and Joy Lofthouse
- Navigation equipment
- Personal diaries and letters
- Maps used by ATA pilots
- Aircraft delivery chits
- Official documents
- A complete list of all ATA employees – there were over 7000!
- Newspaper, magazine articles and obituaries
It is intended to make the ATA collection catalogue and certain documents available on-line.
The Air Transport Auxiliary exhibition and archive (nicknamed “Grandma Flew Spitfires”) tells a forgotten story of courage, skill and sacrifice. 80 years on, it is difficult to believe that Britain was so desperate that the amateur pilots of Air Transport Auxiliary (men and women), were employed to fly dozens of different types of war planes between factories and front line squadrons. But it is true, as you will discover when you visit the Maidenhead Heritage Centre.
Why is the ATA exhibition & archive in Maidenhead? Because Air Transport Auxiliary’s headquarters airfield was at White Waltham, just 2 miles from Maidenhead Heritage Centre, which owns one of the largest collections of ATA memorabilia and records anywhere in the world. This Air Transport Auxiliary collection is on permanent display. Come and discover the inspiring story of ordinary men and women who achieved extraordinary things.
We are a voluntary-run charitable museum with no financial help from the government. The huge investment in the Grandma Flew Spitfires project means that we have to make a modest charge for visits.
There is an admission charge in addition to the Spitfire Flight cost. Tickets are valid for a whole year and give you access to the ATA museum & the Grandma Flew Spitfires exhibition.
ATA admission charge:
- Adults £3.50
- Concessions £3.00
- Children (aged 5+) £2.00
- Children under 5 FREE
- Friends of Maidenhead Heritage Centre FREE
Spitfire flights cost:
- 30-minute flight: £30.00
- 60-minute flight: £60.00
Group bookings available
We are delighted to welcome pre-booked visits from families, corporate groups, clubs and schools. Please contact us for details.
Did you know?
Did you know that you could fly a Spitfire simulator? Just like the intrepid men and women of ATA. The Spitfire simulator is located in the Grandma Flew Spitfires gallery.