FOR­GOT­TEN AVIATRICES

Australian Geographic - - You Say -

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

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