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women's history month

Throughout Australian aviation history, women aviators have and continue to make an unignorable impact, despite the numerous challenges which so many of them have faced.

Every March, the world honors the contributions made by women for Women's History Month. The Australian Aviation Hall of Fame is proud to be represented by the pionering, history-making women below.

Captain Deborah Jane Lawrie AM

With years of experience and a true passion for aviation, Lawrie applied to Ansett Airlines. After sending applications for another two years, she had still yet to recieve any response. Suspecting inequal practices after her rejection during the interview process, the issue of discrimination in aviation became apparent to the public. After deliberation it was ruled by the Victorian Equal Opportunity Board that the rejection was discriminatory. Her career would continue to flourish - today she is the world's oldest female commercial pilot. 

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Christine Davy MBE

After an illustrious career in aviation, including becomin the first woman to be employed as Catain of an airline, Christine went on to gain her Air Transport Pilot Licence – Helicopter, in 1991. Making her again the first Australian woman to attain that qualification. Christine was also appointed a member of the National Pioneer Women’s Hall of Fame in Alice Springs, recognising her achievements as a pioneering female aviator, alongside numerous other awards. 

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Freda Mary Thompson OBE

Planning to take part in the England to Australia Air Race, Freda Mary Thompson arrived in England with only 250 hours of prior flight time. Unfortunately too late to enroll in the race, she remained determined to partake and embarked on the journey on her own. After months of planning, Thompson departed from Kent on the 28th of September, 1934, with allowance for one small bag and a maximum flying range of 10 hours. The trip totaled at 39 days of flight including an extra 20 days spent in Athens waiting for spare parts. This flight was one the first of its kind led by a woman pilot, following Thompson’s 1933 achievement as the first woman in the British Empire to obtain an Instructor Licence.

 

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Nancy-bird Walton AO OBE

Nancy-Bird Walton first made waves in aviation when she came the youngest woman in the British Empire to attain a commercial pilot's license. She was hired to operate a flying medical service in outback New South Wales, becoming known as the 'Angel of the Outback'. Her generous spirit saw her invested as an Officer of the Order of British Empire (OBE) in 1966 and appointed an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) in 1990.

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Maude Rose “Lores” Bonney AM MBE

Launching into her flying career, ‘Lores’ Bonney set numerous records over the course of five years which have still yet to be broken by any other Australian woman pilots. Bonney departed from Brisbane to fly around Australia on the 15th of August, 1932. Even though she encountered potentially disastrous moments, Bonney landed safely on the 27th of September 1932. She was now the very first aviatrix to circumnavigate Australia, and in doing so, opened the doors for other women pilots to take to the sky.

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SENJA RAYMOND ROBEY BEM

With a long-spanning and undeniably impressive career in aviation, Senja Raymond Robey was renowned for her outstandingly skilled flight ability. She worked as an instructor, director, manager and chief pilot over the 60 years of her service. Her belief in the capability of women pilots carried through her life, working alongside Nancy-Bird Walton and even presenting to the courts on Deborah Lawrie's behalf.

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