Saturday, 2 May 2015

Trail Blazing Australian Women in Aviation

During the 1900's there were very little opportunities in Australia for females to pursue an interest in aviation.  Women pilots were flying in many countries across Europe, UK and the USA from 1910-1927, however it wasn't until early 1927 that Australian women started to make their mark in the aviation history books.

In March of 1927 Millicent Bryant became the first woman to be licensed as a pilot in Australia, she was  a widow with three adult sons when she decided that she would learn to fly at the age of 49.  She completed her training within four months .  Sadly Millicent's aviation dreams were tragically taken when she was killed in a ferry accident on Sydney Harbour in November 1927.

In August of 1927 two more Australian women gained their pilot's licences, Margaret Reardon and Evelyn Follett taking the total to 3 female pilots with Class A licences in Australia.

Records show that by the year 1930, there were 28 Australian women with Class 'A' licences, which now days is referred to as a Private Pilot Licence.

The very first Australian woman to be issued with a Class 'B' licence in June 1929 - which is now known as a Commercial Pilot Licence was a lady by the name of Phyllis Arnott.  A descendent of the famous Arnott's biscuit family, Phyllis went on to become an opera singer and never used her Class B licence for commercial aviation purposes.

The youngest female Commercial Pilot in the British Commonwealth at the age of 19 years old was Australia's most high profile woman pilot, Nancy Bird-Walton.  Nancy became the first Australian female pilot to be employed in the industry and she later went on to form the Australian Women Pilots' Association in 1950.

Excepts of the above information on more details can be found in the book - 'First Females Above Australia' authored by Rosemary Arnold, BAV

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