Uno launches ‘Tigermoth’ buses in Hatfield named after inspirational female aviators

PUBLISHED: 13:45 06 February 2019

The 'Tigermoth' ladies of the Air Transport Auxiliary. Picture: Maidenhead Heritage Centre

The 'Tigermoth' ladies of the Air Transport Auxiliary. Picture: Maidenhead Heritage Centre

Adam Hollier

Uno Buses launched its new bus brand ‘Tigermoth’ on Monday, which are named after the de Havilland biplanes manufactured at Hatfield Aerodrome.

Marion Wilberforce's nephew John Lumsden, with Mayor Cllr Barbara Fitzsimons and Jim Thorpe of Uno Buses. Picture: Adam HollierMarion Wilberforce's nephew John Lumsden, with Mayor Cllr Barbara Fitzsimons and Jim Thorpe of Uno Buses. Picture: Adam Hollier

Each of the eight buses will commemorate one of the first eight women who joined the Air Transport Auxiliary (ATA) in 1939, breaking into the all-male world of military flying and marking a significant chapter in aviation history.

The ATA was formed of civilians who ferried planes between factories and front-line RAF airfields during World War I. The first female ATA members flew the first delivery of Tiger Moth ‘open cockpit’ planes from Hatfield to Scotland in the winter of World War II.

Richard Poad, chairman of the Maidenhead Heritage Centre, known as the ‘spiritual home’ of the ATA, said: “These women flew unarmed, without radio, navigating by map-reading and always at the mercy of the ever-changing British weather.

“Until July 1941 women were only approved to fly trainers like the Tiger Moth or communications aircraft. In 1943 11 women were cleared to fly 4-engined bombers and ATA finally gave its female and male pilots equal pay.

The 'Tigermoth' ladies of the Air Transport Auxiliary. Picture: Maidenhead Heritage CentreThe 'Tigermoth' ladies of the Air Transport Auxiliary. Picture: Maidenhead Heritage Centre

“The ‘ATA-girls’ were a very special sisterhood and are superb role models for young women today. We’re really pleased that Uno are helping to tell their story.”

The eight Tigermoth buses will run on the 653 service between Hatfield, Welwyn Garden City and St Albans. Each bus will have the name of one of the ATA ladies on the front of the vehicle and inside there will be a photo and further information about her life and the ATA.

The first female ATA pilots were named Winifred Crossley, Margaret Cunnison, Margaret Fairweather, Mona Friedlander, Joan Hughes, Gabrielle Patterson, Rosemary Rees and Marion Wilberforce.

Uno Buses managing director Jim Thorpe said: “We’re delighted to be able to honour these amazing women and help share their story as widely as we can.

The new fleet of Uno buses are named after female ATA Tigermoth pilots. Picture: Adam HollierThe new fleet of Uno buses are named after female ATA Tigermoth pilots. Picture: Adam Hollier

“All our teams are so passionate about celebrating our local heritage and to be able to display this incredible part of our history on our buses is something we’re all very proud of.”

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