A ‘trailblazer in the sky’, ‘born a bird without wings’ and ‘an Angel of the Outback’ – these are just some of the ways aviation pioneer Nancy-Bird Walton has been described.
Nancy-Bird first stepped into a plane, a de Haviland Gypsy Moth, in 1928 at the age of 13. She immediately fell in love with the thrill of flight - beginning her journey then and there to become, at the age of 19,the youngest Australian woman to earn a licence to fly commercially.
Using that licence to take fellow Australians on joy flights to fairs across the country, she was able to introduce many to her passion for flying, but it was her skills as a talented aviator that helped save lives.
Nancy-Bird was known as the ‘Angel of the Outback’ for her work transporting doctors across communities in regional New South Wales.
Without the technology that pilots rely on today, Nancy-Bird navigated using nothing more than telegraph lines and fences as reference. She would land in fields, careful to avoid hazards such as kangaroos and rabbit holes.
She was passionate about her craft, establishing the Australian Women Pilots’ Association in 1950, of which she served as president for 40 years.
Nancy-Bird was an aviation trailblazer not just for women, but for anyone who has dreamed of the freedom of the sky. Nancy-Bird held her pilot’s licence right up to three years before her passing at the age of 93 in 2009.
Two years shy of a century since she first took controls of an aircraft, Western Sydney International (Nancy-Bird Walton) Airport will open for domestic and international passenger services in late 2026.
Nancy-Bird's pioneering spirit continues to inspire every member of Team WSA and it's one of the many reasons why we’re proud to have her as our namesake. Her story lives on through Western Sydney International and her name will continue to be synonymous with paving new opportunities for the next generation.
Nancy-Bird Walton OA OBE, is The Aviator.