Updated Words Translations

“My God, it’s a woman!”

“My God, it’s a woman!” This is the name chosen by Australian Aviatrix Nancy Bird Walton for her autobiography. I can imagine that she must have heard that sentence many times, as being a pilot was not something expected from a woman in those days.  In fact, women were discouraged from doing many things. They were discouraged from seeking a career and ambition had a very bad connotation for women. If a woman was ambitious, she was perceived as ruthless, selfish and career-obsessed. Unfortunately, I think some still have that perception today.

Her story

Nancy was born in October 1915 in Kew, a small town in the Mid-North Coast of NSW.  Her love for flying started at the very young age of 13 when she took a flight on a de Havilland Gipsy Moth at a local fair. After that she took flying lessons with Kingsford Smith, another great name in Australian Aviation, getting her first class A flying licence at only 17 years of age, two years later she got her commercial licence. She wasn’t the first female pilot though. She bought her own Gipsy Moth herself and used it to fly around the country and she used to take people to joyrides at local country fairs.

She worked with the Royal Far West Children’s Health Scheme and she operated an Air Ambulance service based in the town of Bourke, NSW. Using roadmaps, she would sometimes land on dangerous paddocks, but she has never had an accident in her career.

She was unstoppable, during WWII she commanded the Australian Women’s Air Training Troops, then she founded the Australian Women Pilots’ Association in 1950 remaining its president until 1990.

Awarded the Order of the British Empire in 1966 and 1990 an Officer of the Order of Australia, she held her pilot’s licence until 2006, three years before she passed away in Sydney.

Her Legacy

The terminal at Bourke Airport is named after Nancy Bird Walter. The Australian Geographic Society has also created a sponsorship for young female adventurers named after this amazing pioneer. But her legacy goes way beyond prizes and accolades, although we can’t forget her contribution and amazing achievements.

Nancy Bird Walton showed girls that is ok to follow your dreams, even if it may not be considered “appropriate for a lady”. It is ok to be adventurous and, yes, ambitious, because we’re here to be the best version of ourselves and that means living a fulfilling life. Doesn’t matter if that means being a pilot, an astronaut, a miner, an engineer, or a labourer. Be ambitious, be yourself be the best you can be and that will be remarkable.