Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Nancy-Bird Walton - how remiss of me!

Minicapt was unaware of our Nancy-bird, female pioneering aviator of Australia. Up there with Sir Charles Kingsford-Smith, and many others.

Nancy-Bird Walton, who died in Sydney on January 13 aged 93, learned to fly as a 17-year-old when there were no jobs for pilots in Australia, particularly if they were female.

Setting off with a co-pilot, Peg McKillop, in a fourth-hand Gipsy Moth with two open cockpits and a cruising speed of 80mph, she barnstormed throughout New South Wales, offering joyrides at fairs, occasionally carrying aerial advertising and taking part in air pageants. They navigated over the featureless western plains by wristwatch, compass and road map, sometimes landing in rough paddocks and claypits to ask the way. At night they often had to tie the Moth to a fence for the night to ensure it was not blown away by storms and hope that cattle had not chewed through the fabric by next morning.

After becoming, at 19, the youngest woman in the Empire to obtain a commercial licence, she used money from her father and an aunt to buy a Leopard Moth, which could carry two passengers.
More of the UK Telegraph obit.

Nancy-Bird Walton, Australian aviation pioneer.

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