HerStory Archive

BIRD-WALTON, Nancy

Born: 1915

Died: 13/1/2009

Special Achievements:

In 1934, Nancy became Australia's first female pilot to fly commercially, when she was hired by the Far West Children’s Health Scheme to fly nurses round the Outback. At the time, at the age of 19, she was the youngest female commercial pilot in the British Empire, and held her licence until 2006.  Nancy learnt to fly from Charles Kingsford Smith. In 1935 she organised the first Ladies Flying Tour in Australia

In  1936, Nancy won the Ladies trophy in the South Australian Centenary Air race from Brisbane to Adelaide; she was a Commandant of the Women’s Air training Corps; in 1950 she founded the Australian Women's Pilot's Association, and was president until 1990; and in 1958, with co-pilot Iris Critchell, she placed 5th (of 61) in the All Women’s Transcontinental Air race (Powder Puff Derby). 

Additional Information:

Nancy received many honours during her life, incuding:

1966: an Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (OBE); 

1990: Nancy became an Officer of the order of Australia;

In 1997, Nancy was named a living National Treasure by the National Trust. In 2006, the Royal Far West Children’s Health Scheme awarded her its first lifetime membership and achievement award; in 2008, QANTAS named their first A380 after her.  Nancy also received a John Flynn Outback Pioneers Award.


Resources

  • Image - Nancy Bird-Walton

    Image courtesy of Nancy Bird-Walton, NPWHF collection


  • References

    In 1997, Nancy Bird-Walton published her autobiography, My God, It’s A Woman!


  • Image - Nancy Bird-Walton

    NPWHF aviatrix tapestry

    NPWHF collection