13 January 2009, Nancy-Bird Walton
Nancy-Bird Walton was a pioneering Australian aviator, and was the founder and patron of the Friends of Australian Women Pilots’ Association (AWPA).
She became a fully qualified pilot at the age of 19, and became the youngest Australian woman to gain a pilot’s license. After buying her first airplane, she started Barnstorming around Australia together with another female aviator pioneer, the Scottish-born Peggy Kelman.
Barnstorming was a form of entertainment in which stunt pilots performed tricks, either individually or in groups called flying circuses, with the purpose to impress people with the skill of pilots and the sturdiness of planes. Barnstormers were pilots who flew throughout the country selling airplane rides and performing stunts; Charles Lindbergh first began flying in this capacity.
Later on, using her own airplane, she worked for the Royal Far West (Manly, NSW) providing medical assistance for children from the remote areas of the state, she won an air race from Adelaide to Brisbane and she trained young female pilots.
In the small picture, Nancy-Bird Walton and Peggy Kelman (nee McKillop) beside Nancy’s DH60 Gypsy Moth, Vincere, 1935. Picture: State Library of NSW