Nancy Bird Walton – Pioneer, 2003
oil on canvas
152 cm x 91 cm

This year, the Centenary of Powered Flight, will be 70 years since Nancy Bird first soloed and won her “A CLASS” flying licence at the age of 17and an advanced commercial licence when was 19. Making her the youngest woman in the then British Empire to hold such a licence and Australia’s first commercial aviatrix. Until then any form of flying was definitely a man’s domain.

Nancy earned her living flying. With her own Gypsy Moth she planned barnstorming tours in the North West NSW to follow agricultural shows, taking passengers for ten shillings a flight. It was the first time some people had seen a plane, let alone a female pilot! Along with private charter flying

The Far West Children’s Health Scheme employed her to fly the nursing sister to the outback properties.

In 1949 she called together women pilots from all over Australia and the following year formed the Australians Women Pilots Association, with Mrs. R G (Mae) Casey as patron. The association has promoted and given scholarships to women who seek to make a career of flying.

“Born to Fly”, Nancy’s first book was gifted to me because of my love of flying and my desire to learn one day. I was captivated by her story and inspired by her passion. It seemed necessary to me then that I should try to follow through with a painting of this exceptional woman.

Artist Statement