BACK STORY

The Courier-Mail - QWeekend - - TIMEOUT - Myles Sin­na­mon

On May 12, 1963, a crowd of about 3000 waited at Bris­bane air­port for the ar­rival of the “fly­ing house­wife”, as 36-year-old Cal­i­for­nian pi­lot Betty Miller had been dubbed by the me­dia. At 8.24pm, her Piper Apache plane landed and the ex­cited crowd broke through the po­lice cor­don to get a closer look. “Gee! It’s good to be here,” said Miller from the win­dow of the cock­pit. The crowd re­sponded with a joy­ous round of For She’s A Jolly Good Fel­low.

Miller had made his­tory by be­com­ing the first fe­male pi­lot to fly solo across the Pa­cific Ocean, cov­er­ing a dis­tance of 7400 miles (12,000km). Her flight had be­gun on April 30, when she de­parted from Oak­land, Cal­i­for­nia. Miller con­tin­ued on to Honolulu, where she was de­layed for four days, then stopped at Can­ton Is­land, Fiji and Noumea be­fore reach­ing her fi­nal des­ti­na­tion of Bris­bane.

Her hus­band, Chuck, was con­fi­dent of his wife’s suc­cess: “I’m not go­ing to be wor­ried about her … Af­ter all, I know what she can do. I taught her to fly.” Miller seemed more wor­ried about her hus­band’s sur­vival in her ab­sence, say­ing: “I al­ways cook Chuck’s favourite, Ir­ish stew, at least three times a week … [he] reck­ons he hasn’t had a good home-cooked meal since I left.”

The fol­low­ing day, cel­e­bra­tions con­tin­ued with a re­cep­tion at City Hall. Miller gave act­ing lord mayor Nor­man Buchan a gold key from the mayor of Santa Mon­ica and a sil­ver plate from the mayor of Bris­bane, Cal­i­for­nia. She also vis­ited Sir Charles Kings­ford Smith’s plane, “I think I could fly it, but it sure would take a lot of hard work,” Miller said.

1963

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