AG just gets better and better – my wife and I have subscribed since the first issue. In AG 136 I was particularly interested in The forgotten aviatrix by Kristen Alexander and Josephine Sargent, which covered pioneering female aviator Lores Bonney.When I was a boy in the 1930s, standing at the front of the Queensland Aero Club, a bi-plane came overhead. Someone said to me “That’s Mrs Bonney.” I’ve been interested in her exploits ever since.
It has to be pointed out that in the accompanying graphic “Female flying aces”, no mention is made of German aviatrix Elly Beinhorn, who flew into Sydney in 1932, the second woman after Amy Johnson to fly solo from Europe to Australia. Nancy Bird Walton gets multiple mentions, but she never, to my knowledge, made any long pioneering flights. It was disappointing that in naming their first A380 aircraft, Qantas ignored the feats of Mrs Bonney and other record breakers, choosing Nancy Bird Walton instead. A charming self-promoter, she did much for women in aviation, but was not in the same pioneering class as a number of others. JOHN H. FYSH,WAMBERAL, NSW I enjoyed your wonderful article on female pilots in AG 136. I feel compelled to write and inform you of another aviatrix, Dorothy Jean Gardiner, born in Coonabarabran in 1910.
Dorothy was the 14th woman in Australia to hold a private licence and possibly only the second to own her own plane. Her father had a property near Baradine, NSW, and bought her a DH60M Moth biplane (pictured above). She gained her pilot’s licence in Melbourne just after her 21st birthday, taking off and landing at ‘Bridgellah’, the family property.
Jean flew all over Australia in challenges, and Nancy Bird Walton held her in high regard.The Narromine News and Trangie Advocate reported in 1933 that she once considered a flight to England, although it never eventuated. She was an extraordinary lady full of adventure. NOEL EVANS, COONABARABRAN, NSW