TRIBUTES have been paid to a former WWII fighter pilot from Cirencester who has died.

Joy Lofthouse, who flew Spitfires and Hurricanes in the Second World War, lived in Cirencester for much of her life and died yesterday aged 94.

The Royal International Air Tattoo, which Joy attended on several occasions, were saddened to hear Joy had passed away.

Spokesman Richard Arquati said: “As a member of the Air Transport Auxiliary during World War Two, Joy performed the vital role of flying aircraft between factories and military airfields across the country.

"She was one of the great aviation pioneers.

"It was always a great honour for the Air Tattoo when Joy was able to join us as she was a hugely popular figure.

"She was full of life and always happy to relate her flying experiences to members of the public.

"She will be very warmly remembered by all those who had the privilege of meeting her.”

Brian Woodcock, a former serviceman from Cirencester said Joy was “an inspirational woman”.

In 1943, Joy applied to the Air Transport Auxiliary (ATA) after seeing an advert in a newspaper calling for women to learn to fly.

She became one of only 164 female pilots, who were known as the ‘Attagirls’.

Wilts and Gloucestershire Standard:

Joy recalled one of her most memorable moments of her service, which saw her flying over training for the D-Day landings and seeing first-hand the scale of the preparations on the south coast.

“You could have walked to the Isle of Wight over the barges,” she told the Standard in 2015.

“Even though I didn’t have a boyfriend or husband down there, my heart bled for those boys.”

In her youth, Joy played tennis at Cirencester Grammar School and last year she was guest of honour in the Royal Box at Wimbledon, where she received a rousing cheer from the Centre Court crowd.

Wilts and Gloucestershire Standard:

“It was amazing. I was so thrilled with all the people I met – Billie Jean King and John McEnroe,” Joy said.

She added that meeting David Beckham and his mother, who were “very nice”, was one of the highlights.

“Everybody was so kind and we were so well looked after, it was a tremendous day,” she said. “I was amazed at the applause from the crowd, especially with so many others there who had done so much.”