From the Desk of Kazimiera J. (Jean) Cottam, PhD

Flight Leader Anna Leska-Daab flew 1,295 different aircraft to battle-front stations

LESKA-DAAB, ANNA (1910-1998). Flight Lieutenant, RAF. Flight Leader, Air Transport Auxiliary (ATA), directly subordinated to the Commander of the RAF. Great Britain, World War II.

Stationed at Hatfield and Hamble, Leska-Daab ferried a total number of 1295 aircraft, including 557 Supermarine Spitfires (I-XVII versions). She flew 93 types of aircraft and amphibia, and spent 1241 hours in the air. At eighteen Leska-Daab qualified as a category A and B glider pilot in Miłosna, Poland, and as balloon pilot at the Warsaw Flying Club. In the spring of 1939 she began flying aircraft at the Pomeranian Flying Club, Poland. In September 1939, after the war had started, she was assigned to the Polish Air Force HQ squadron to fly liaison missions and confidently delivered one aircraft to an airfield, even though had only a few hours of independent flying to her credit.

After arrival in Great Britain via Romania and France, she initially worked at the HQ of the RAF and subsequently at the Air Ministry. Having passed a flying test intended for those with 250 hours of flying, even though she had one tenth of the requirement, she was recruited by the ATA.

Leska-Daab started ferrying aircraft with the ATA in February 1941. At first she flew small, and subsequently larger, more maneuverable and diversified aircraft. One of three Polish women to fly with the ATA, she stayed longest--until it was disbanded in November 1945. (The other two servicewomen were Jadwiga Piłsudska and Barbara Wojtulanis.) Her favorite military aircraft were Spitfires, Mustangs, Tempests, and Mosquitos. Upon picking up an aircraft at a plant, she had to check its operation both on the ground and in the air, before undertaking to transport it, and commented in writing on her flight for the benefit of the destination wing.

She became Flight Leader in the spring of 1943, in charge of eight women ferry pilots, whom she instructed and assisted. Her subordinates included five British women and one each from the United States, Chile, and Argentina.

Leska-Daab was awarded many Polish and British decorations, including the Polish Military Pilot Badge, and was the sole woman flying with the ATA to receive the Royal Medal.


6 March 2009 — Return to cover.