Nancy-Bird Walton in 1933 in a Gipsy Moth, NSW Public Lobrary

It was inspiring yet troubling to read a very sharp interview about the late aviator Nancy-Bird Walton’s 100th anniversary in The Australian this morning.

In it Caroline Fitzsimons, who heads the NSW and ACT branch of the Australian Women Pilots Association warns that Walton’s achievements, which included becoming the country’s first female commercial pilot, could be forgotten.

That’s alarming for many reasons. Women are only just overcoming the discriminatory practices that have kept them from becoming a much larger part of the flying profession, as well as further reducing their under representation in business and politics and public administration.

Nancy-Bird Walton was top of mind for many Australians when the first Qantas A380 was named in her honour in 2008.

Her capacity to remember and retell the stories of early flight in this country and her lively presentation made her a media favourite.

Nancy is being celebrated at a special function in Sydney tonight. It will be a wonderful evening.

But taking on board the points made in The Australian interview, surely there is a case for a high profile award being set up in her name.

Nancy-Bird Walton’s flight path through life was not just about flying, but getting things done that society, or authority, or ‘manners’ , or let’s cut to the chase, men, said couldn’t be done by women.

It might be given a less unsubtle title, but there needs to be an annual Nancy-Bird Walton medal or award for female achievement set up.

Something like the Nancy-Bird They Said We Couldn’t Do It Award.

That way Nancy-Bird Walton will never be forgotten, and our daughters and their daughters might propel themselves even faster and further toward the top careers that should be open to all.

Surely we are generous enough to do this.

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