Walton legacy honoured by Australian Aviation Hall of Fame
November 28, 2017
In an era when women were discouraged from wearing pants, let alone flying planes, Nancy Bird Walton’s achievements are nothing short of remarkable.
Defying the ‘traditional role’ of females in the 1930s, Walton became a qualified pilot at the age of 19 before going on to help set up the Royal Flying Doctor Service and train women pilots during the Second World War.
This month, some 84 years since Walton first took to the skies, her grandson and Boeing employee, Baron Walton, accepted Nancy Bird Walton’s induction into the Australian Aviation Hall of Fame.
“It is a great honour to stand among colleagues of the aviation industry and accept this significant accolade on behalf of my grandmother Nancy,” said Baron Walton.
“My grandmother relentlessly pursued her passion and continues to inspire generations of female aviators across the nation.
“It gives me great pride to tell my daughter that she can do anything she sets her mind to… just look at your great grandmother.”
After receiving her commercial aviation license, Nancy purchased her first plane - a Boeing heritage company de Havilland Gipsy Moth.
During World War II, Nancy established and was commandant of an Australian Women’s Air Training Corps. She founded the Australian Women Pilots’ Association in 1950, and remained its president until 1990. In 1966 she was awarded the Order of the British Empire (OBE) and made an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) in 1990.
Nancy held her pilots licence until three years before her death, aged 93, in 2009. The terminal at Bourke Airport is named after her, and an annual sponsorship for young female adventurers was set up in her name by the Australian Geographic Society.