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Nancy Bird-Walton makes flying Museum visit

27 MAY 2004

Australia's best-known female pilot and barnstormer, Nancy Bird-Walton, will tomorrow visit the National Museum of Australia in Canberra, where her flying helmet and goggles have just gone on show.

Founder of the Australian Women Pilots' Association and the first woman in the Commonwealth to carry passengers on a plane, Nancy's story is on show in the National Museum's Eternity gallery.

Eternity explores the stories of 50 ordinary and extraordinary Australians, based on 10 emotional themes that speak directly to people's experiences. Nancy's story is part of the 'Thrill' theme.

The new display includes Nancy's green leather flying helmet and goggles, on loan from the Australian Aviation Museum in Bankstown.

Nancy, now 89, is travelling from Sydney to meet Eternity curator Sophie Jensen.

WHAT: Nancy Bird Walton visits

WHEN: 12pm Friday, 28 May, 2004

WHERE: Eternity gallery, National Museum, Acton Peninsula, ACT

Nancy Bird-Walton famously took flying lessons in Sydney with Charles Kingsford-Smith in 1933, when she was 17 and was one of his first pupils.

Nancy obtained her commercial pilot's licence in 1935, and with the help of her family bought her first plane - a Gypsy Moth. She began barnstorming to earn a living, travelling to shows and race meetings.

Nancy later met the Reverend Stanley Drummond from the Far West Children's Health Scheme and he offered her a job flying nurses on their rounds. Nancy became the first woman to work in Australian commercial aviation, operating an early version of today's Air Ambulance.

For more information please contact Trish Kirkland, National Museum on 0408 491 545, or t.kirkland@nma.gov.au .