A ca­reer of firsts

Postage stamp de­signed for fe­male Aurora pi­lot at 14 Wing Green­wood

Annapolis Valley Register - - FRONT PAGE - BY ASH­LEY THOMP­SON KINGSCOUNTYNEWS.CA Ash­ley.thomp­son@kingscountynews.ca

The first fe­male in the Cana­dian Forces to fly an Aurora is now the face of a postage stamp in­spired by her per­sis­tence in pur­suit of a dream.

The Ninety-nines, an in­ter­na­tional or­ga­ni­za­tion com­prised of women pi­lots, has cre­ated a stamp to hon­our the note­wor­thy mil­i­tary ca­reer Capt. Mary Cameron-kelly, who re­mains in ac­tive duty at 14 Wing Green­wood and is slated to cel­e­brate her 37th an­niver­sary in the mil­i­tary July 15.

“We have tried with our pro­gram to have a va­ri­ety of women from a va­ri­ety of dif­fer­ent as­pects of avi­a­tion,” said Mar­i­lyn Dick­son, a spokes­woman for the Cana­dian Ninety-nines, in a re­cent in­ter­view.

“She is the sec­ond mil­i­tary woman that we’ve cho­sen and, largely, it’s be­cause she was the first woman pi­lot to fly the Aurora and she has over 7,000 hours now fly­ing it, which is sig­nif­i­cantly more than any other woman.”

There was a time many moons ago when fouryear-old Cameron-kelly, now mar­ried with two grown chil­dren, was reg­u­larly spot­ted wear­ing a pi­lot’s hat her par­ents bought her while watch­ing tele­vi­sion in her fam­ily’s North Syd­ney home.

“Mary’s father served with the Cana­dian Army Corps dur­ing the Korean war, so she was

at­tracted to the mil­i­tary. When she grad­u­ated from high school she joined the Cana­dian Air Force in 1981, only three years af­ter the mil­i­tary first al­lowed women to be trained as pi­lots. Few women were se­ri­ously con­sid­ered for pi­lot-train­ing at that time,” wrote Dick­son in a bi­o­graph­i­cal over­view of Cameron-kelly’s fas­ci­na­tion with avi­a­tion.

Cameron-kelly’s path­way to be­com­ing a pi­lot was not with­out some metaphor­i­cal failed take­offs. She was ini­tially re­jected when she ap­plied for pi­lot train­ing and worked as an air­frame tech­ni­cian un­til she was even­tu­ally ac­cepted into the pro­gram.

“She showed her de­ter­mi­na­tion by earn­ing a civil­ian pri­vate pi­lot li­cense and par­tic­i­pat­ing in the Web­ster Com­pe­ti­tion. She placed sec­ond for Best Am­a­teur Pi­lot in Canada,” wrote Dick­son.

The air­frame tech­ni­cian course in­struc­tor turned avi­a­tor be­came the first fe­male in the Cana­dian Forces to fly the Aurora, a large, fourengine plane she worked on as a tech­ni­cian, in 1991. In 1995, she proved that her ca­reer would be one marked with mul­ti­ple firsts when she was ap­pointed the first fe­male Mar­itime Pa­trol Crew Com­man­der.

“In this role she re­cently com­manded a team in­clud­ing six women (that) helped res­cue nine fish­er­men just as their boat was sink­ing in Canada’s far north. She also flew to the Ara­bian Gulf where she par­tic­i­pated in Op­er­a­tion Apollo in the fight against ter­ror­ism. Fol­low­ing that op­er­a­tion, her crew flew the last Aurora home,” Dick­son’s over­view of Cameron-kelly’s ca­reer reads.

The stamp, de­signed by Suzanne Wilt­shire us­ing pho­tos by Mas­ter Cpl. Peter Red­den, The Cana­dian 99s, an in­ter­na­tional or­ga­ni­za­tion of women pi­lots com­monly re­ferred to as The Nine­tynines, has de­signed a stamp hon­our­ing the note­wor­thy ca­reer of 14 Wing Green­wood Aurora pi­lot Capt. Mary Cameron-kelly. The postage stamp will be launched at a cer­e­mony in Green­wood July 15, and it is avail­able for pur­chase through The Ninety-nines.

fit­tingly fea­tures Cameron-kelly in the fore­ground and an Aurora in the dis­tance. It will be launched dur­ing a cer­e­mony tak­ing place at the RCAF Mu­seum ad­ja­cent to 14 Wing Green­wood July 15 at 1:30 p.m.

The reg­u­lar let­ter postage stamp is solely avail­able for pur­chase through the Ninety-nines. The

or­ga­ni­za­tion de­signs stamps through Canada Post’s Pic­ture Postage pro­gram to raise aware­ness of ex­cep­tional Cana­dian women pi­lots.

Stamps can be pur­chased at http://cana­di­an99s.com/stamps

WENDY EL­LIOTT

As part of Wolfville’s 125th an­niver­sary cel­e­bra­tion, town res­i­dents gath­ered on Canada Day. Although he couldn’t at­tend the 125th photo shoot in per­son, John and Anne Mackay brought a photo cutout of their son Harry so he could par­tic­i­pate as well. For more Kings County Canada Day pho­tos, see page B3.

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