January 21, 2009

One Grand Lady of the Skies Farewells Another...

I distinctly remember a moment a few years ago, back when I first started working at the airlines.

I was helping a lovely old lady with her bags off a flight from a small town, and we got to chatting about her flight. This woman, one could tell, was a true lady. She wore a strand of pearls around her neck, a dear two-piece tweed suit in shades of pink, and her hair was immaculately set- and aside from all that she just had a lovely, beautiful aura and poise about her.

I asked how she had enjoyed her flight, and she remarked that it was "quite lovely, and very quick".

At that time, I didn't realise that I was talking to an Australian icon.

Nancy-Bird Walton is perhaps the most famous female pilot to many Australians. Oh, we know of Amelia Earhart, but it was Nancy who helped shape this nation back in the days when flying was a wonder and only men dared take to the skies.

Among other things, Nancy was instrumental in founding and supporting air-ambulance services in rural areas, championing the cause of the female pilots who followed her, and was a founding member of the Australian Women Pilot's Association. You can read more about her work & see a slideshow about Nancy here.

Today, at her funeral service, the Qantas A380 that carries her name flew over the cathedral where she was being farewelled. It seems a fitting tribute to such a grand lady of the skies.

Tailwinds & blue skies to you Nancy- cleared to final flight level.


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