Image 'Nancy Bird Walton with her plane, Gypsy Moth, 1935'

TLF ID R3585

This is a black-and-white close-up photograph (9.5 cm x 11.8 cm) showing the famous Australian pilot Nancy Bird (1915-) leaning against the open cockpit of her de Havilland biplane.

Educational details

Educational value
  • This asset shows one of the first female commercial pilots in Australia - Nancy Bird was taught to fly by Charles Kingsford Smith in 1933 when she was 17 years of age; she commenced her flying career on a barnstorming tour, dropping in on country fairs and giving joy-rides; in 1935 she was hired by the Far West Children's Health Scheme to operate her aircraft as an Aerial Ambulance and Baby Clinic.
  • It shows one of Australia's aviation pioneers, who encouraged other women to fly - the first Ladies' Flying Tour in Australia was organised by Bird in 1935, and three years later the Women's Flying Club was formed; in 1950, Bird helped to found the Australian Women Pilots' Association (AWPA), becoming its inaugural president and remaining in the post until 1990.
  • It shows a female aviator, or 'aviatrix' as they were known at the time - in the 1930s, women were under-represented in aviation, with female pilots rare and opposition to them strong; in 1935, Harold V C Thorby, the Minister assisting the Australian Minister for Commerce, stated that flying was not 'biologically suited' to women.
  • It shows Bird wearing long pants, a shirt and a tie - this dress style was practical for a pilot but frowned upon for women at the time; US pilot Harriet Quimby had said in 1911 that 'if a woman wants to fly, first of all she must … abandon skirts'.
  • It shows a distinguished Australian - Nancy Bird Walton (her married name), has been presented with many awards, including the Order of the British Empire, Order of Australia, and Dame of St John (Knights of Malta); the Bourke airport terminal is named after her.
  • It displays part of a de Havilland Aircraft Gipsy Moth biplane - in 1935, with help from her father and great aunt, Bird was able to buy her first aeroplane, a Gipsy Moth, for £400; the Gipsy Moth was developed as a light aircraft, intended to be affordable and easy to fly.

Other details

  • Contributor
  • Name: National Library of Australia
  • Organization: National Library of Australia
  • Description: Content provider
  • URL:
  • Name: Education Services Australia
  • Organization: Education Services Australia
  • Description: Data manager
  • Copyright Holder
  • Name: National Library of Australia
  • Organization: National Library of Australia
  • Publisher
  • Name: Education Services Australia Ltd
  • Organization: Education Services Australia Ltd
  • Description: Publisher
  • Address: VIC, AUSTRALIA
  • URL:
  • Resource metadata contributed by
  • Name: Education Services Australia Ltd
  • Organisation: Education Services Australia Ltd
  • Address: AUSTRALIA
  • URL:
Access profile
  • Colour independence
  • Device independence
  • Hearing independence
Learning Resource Type
  • Image
  • © Education Services Australia Ltd and National Library of Australia, 2013, except where indicated under Acknowledgements