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26 February 2018

Jonathan Ferguson (1915 - 1974) pilot, engineer, civil servant

Joy Ferguson was born in Lurgan, County Armagh, and attended Lurgan College, a Christian instition which had admitted girls since 1918.

In 1939 while working as an electrical appliances demonstrator in the local electricity showrooms, Ferguson gained a Royal Aeronautical Club pilot’s licence. With this Ferguson was able to join the Women’s Air Transport Auxiliary (more), which moved planes around, especially from factories to airfields (the men pilots were all needed in combat). Ferguson flew as a 2nd officer and racked up over 1,000 flying hours, and continued with this commission after the war.

Ferguson was then employed by the Ministry of Supply working probably in aircraft research. She was also involved in the Air Rangers section of the Girl Guides, and was elected to the council of the Women’s Engineering Society.
Ferguson 1950s.  No post-transition photographs available

In 1958 Ferguson quit the WES. Shortly afterwards he announced that he had had a sex-change operation and was now Jonathan. He was even able to get his North Ireland birth certificate re-issued and the entry in the register of births changed. A spokesman for the civil service was quoted that “the alteration to the birth certificate will not affect his employment in the Ministry”, and he was upgraded to the male pay-scale.

Jonathan Ferguson died at age 59 after falling from a ladder while doing maintenance at home.


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