Thursday, February 26, 2009

Nancy-Bird Walton RIP

Another amazing aviatrix bites the dust. She did, however, have a pretty good run, living to be 93. Known as "The Angel of the Outback", Nancy-Bird Walton operated an air ambulance service in New South Wales between the two world wars. The Telegraph wrote of her early flying years:

"Setting off with a co-pilot, Peg McKillop, in a fourth-hand Gipsy Moth with two open cockpits and a cruising speed of 80mph, she barnstormed throughout New South Wales, offering joyrides at fairs, occasionally carrying aerial advertising and taking part in air pageants. They navigated over the featureless western plains by wristwatch, compass and road map, sometimes landing in rough paddocks and claypits to ask the way. At night they often had to tie the Moth to a fence for the night to ensure it was not blown away by storms and hope that cattle had not chewed through the fabric by next morning."

This afternoon, I was sitting at my desk in front of this computer, gaily instant-messaging with a friend at her desk about 3000 miles away. It is almost impossible to imagine what it was like in the early years of technology - flying by wristwatch?

The rest of the obituary is here.

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