Australian Women Pilots
Amazing True Stories of Women in the Air
By Kathy Mexted
Published by New South
RRP $34.99 in paperback | ISBN: 9781742236971
Author Kathy Mexted first fell in love with flying at the age of 16 alongside her pilot father in his Piper-Archer four-seat aeroplane. Learning to fly came later as she wholeheartedly embraced the freedom of solo flight.
Deciding against a commercial flying career, she opted instead for editing, writing and photography, with a long held ambition to tell the extraordinary stories of Australian women pilots.
The most familiar of the names making the list of ten is that of Nancy Bird Walton, an aviation pioneer whose love affair with flying began in September 1930 when she handed over a pound – the equivalent of her week’s wages – to pay for her first ever joy ride in what was then the new open cockpit Gypsy Moth.
But in later years, it was her support for women pilots that won the most plaudits.
Deborah Wardley, who was told by Ansett that women couldn’t be pilots, and Gaby Kennard, the first Australian woman to fly solo around the world are among the other inspiring stories of remarkable women aviators achieving their dreams against the odds.
Others are perhaps less known, but as pilots involved with the Royal Flying Doctor Service, Britain’s Air Transport Auxiliary, the RAAF, aerial agriculture or long-range ferrying, their stories are just as extraordinary.
An interesting collection and a reminder that equal opportunity for women in all spheres has been hard won.