Jenny Mitchell: Pilot with the Air Transport Auxiliary. Jenny is the youngest in the Mitchell family. A feisty character, and an accomplished dancer. She is enthralled by flying but is frustrated by the lack of opportunity for women and lack of family support. However her aunt Joy manages to find her an opportunity to join the Civil Air Guard and learn to fly but she is frustrated when this ceases owing to the approach of war. Jenny joins the Voluntary Aid Detachment as a nurse and in May 1940 goes to France and Belgium to support the British Expeditionary Force. After Dunkirk she returns to England and aspires to join the Air Transport Auxiliary, which is accepting women. She joins the ATA in the summer of 1941 and meets Kris and Mary. She starts to have a romantic relationship with an RAF Pilot called George, who is badly wounded during an operation. While helping him through his treatment Jenny becomes closer to George and she encourages him to serve with the ATA. Jenny suffers psychological trauma with vivid memories of what she saw at Dunkirk but keeps it to herself. Her aim of self determination is being thwarted at every turn.
Joy Lindsay: Aunt to Jenny. Joy was a nurse with the Royal Air Force Temporary Nursing Service in the First World War, and rejoins the Princess Mary’s Royal Air Force Nursing Service in the Second World War. Does not suffer fools, and always tension between her and William, her brother. She is a master of the put down. Her husband was a pilot in the First World War and he and Joy exchanged numerous letters. He survived the war but lost his life during the Spanish flu epidemic. She has never looked for romantic love again. Jenny is able to confide in Joy and a strong bond develops. She wishes for Jenny to find the love she had.
Kristina ‘Kris’ Darbyshire: ATA pilot. Had the choice of being an actor or aviator and has chosen flying, for now. A very confident girl and likes to tease men. She gets a lot of fawning attention and is bored with such advances. People only respond to her appearance and she is lonely. She sees ‘relationships’, because they are not true, as a nuisance that will get in the way of her fulfilling her aviation and acting ambitions. However Eric, and his life jovial nature, is different and they develop a relationship. Eric, by mimicking Kris’ accents and mannerisms, breaks through the veneer. He makes her properly smile, although Kris tries to hide this from Eric.
Mary Clarke: ATA pilot. Mary wants to be the first woman to fly around the world. Her fiance is killed early in the war. She therefore becomes wary of love, fearful of being labelled a ‘chop girl’ but also to protect her heart. She fends off Simon, but is emotionally drawn to him – is he someone who will survive – although she still loves Desmond, her first love. She has to bail out of a Spitfire on a delivery flight, comes down in the Sea. Initially believed lost she is rescued and returns.
Jimmy (with various surnames): His main character is solely in the ‘Musical’ narrative of the piece, particularly have a leading role in the ensemble pieces. However, the respective actor also doubles up as ‘officialdom’ characters. He is a maker of false promises, a sly persuader of the gullible, a manipulator of emotion, master of propaganda. He is a form of trickster/shapeshifter using societal pressures on the individuals to persuade them to ‘do their bit’ and be subservient ‘to the greater need’. He persuades the individual to sacrifice for the group, to maintain the status quo, as a noble virtue. He is exploitative. He is the villain of the piece.
George Swift: RAF pilot. Passionate about flying, he had an uncle who was in the Royal Flying Corps, George learnt to fly pre-war and was commissioned in to the RAF in 1937. In 1938 he flew one of the aircraft at the Empire Air Day. George is a happy character and always laughing and joking, but he takes his job seriously. He is however naive and his views of warfare are story based, myths and legends – not based on a reality he is about to experience. George meets Jenny and a romantic relationship develops. He is injured in a crash following a raid, losing fingers on a hand, and his face is badly burnt. He spends a lengthy period in hospital. He struggles to regain confidence, his naivety and immaturity is shattered, but Jenny persuades him to fly again and become part of the ATA. George suffers with nightmares, has recurring thoughts of what happened in the crash, has survivor’s guilt, and becomes somewhat detached from socialising. Eventually he realises that Jenny is able to understand what he has been through.
Grace Mitchell: Mother to Jenny and younger sister to Joy Lindsay. Grace began a romantic relationship with William before he went to war, and she fell deeply in love with him. She tolerated his character change when he returned from France, and hopes that the man she fell in love with may return one day. She has decided to accept William for what he is, but misses the love they originally had.
William Mitchell: Father to Jenny. William idolises his son Andrew and wants to protect his daughter. Being over protective means he clashes with his sister Joy. William was injured on the Somme in 1916, within seconds of going over the top and he missed the rest of the war. He has a limp. When some of his friends returned from France at the end of the First World War he felt awkward and distanced himself.
Andrew Mitchell: Jenny’s brother and a commissioned officer in the Royal Horse Artillery. Extremely confident of himself and always teasing Jenny. Andrew experiences the reality of war during the evacuation of Dunkirk. In July 1941 he is in North Africa and takes part in operation Crusader in November 1941. When the Germans recapture Tobruk in June 1942 he is captured, seeing out the war as a prisoner.
Eric Richards: RAF radio operator/air gunner in George Swift’s crew. Eric came to the UK from Barbados early in the war. Always smiling and joking, and a great mimic of accents and mannerisms. He is attracted to Kris. Eric survives the crash and loses a leg. He is an accomplished piano player. Following the crash, he tries to maintain his jovial outlook but he starts to drink heavily and is also edgy with noise. He hopes that the relationship with Kris will survive.
Simon Carter: RAF Observer and part of George Swift’s crew. Simon is a very intelligent man. He was training to be a quantity surveyor but signed up to join the RAF. Began training as a pilot, but crashed during training and he was taken off pilot training, which damaged his ego. He tries to start a relationship with Mary, but is killed in a crash, having taken the controls to try and land the plane. Somewhat immature and can get aggressive when the status quo, as he sees it, is challenged.
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