One of the lesser-known stories from the Second World War is that of the invaluable role played by civilian ferry pilots. They battled foul weather and risked certain death, if they were unlucky enough to go down into the frigid North Atlantic, while flying the vast over-water aerial highway between Canada and the United Kingdom.
Due to slow transit times of surface ships and the all too successful attacks of Kriegsmarine (Nazi Germany’s navy) U-Boats, which were sinking a large tonnage of merchant vessels carrying crated aeroplanes, England’s very survival was in peril. A sobering fact is that without the Royal Air Force (RAF) Ferry Command’s unceasing and valiant efforts the Allies would have had insufficient numbers of aircraft with which to combat the forces of Nazi Germany.
The heroic and largely unacknowledged aviators soon became the long-haul experts. It is not surprising therefore that Prime Minister Sir Winston Churchill selected an RAF Ferry Command aircrew, headed by an American, to fly him aboard his personal transport (Commando — a modified Consolidated Liberator heavy bomber) to Egypt and elsewhere for critical, high-level talks.
This documentary, often featuring on-camera interviews with former RAF Ferry Command personnel, was produced by the WGBH Educational Foundation for Public Television. The Region 1 DVD, which has a running time of 74 minutes, is extremely interesting and is highly recommended for its exceptional educational content.
Copies of Flying the Secret Sky: The Story of the Royal Air Force Ferry Command may be purchased via Amazon.com, shop.wgbh.org or by telephoning 800-949-8670.
Flying the Secret Sky: The Story of the Royal Air Force Ferry Command. DVD. WGBH Educational Foundation, 2008. ISBN 978-1-59375-844-8