Nancy Bird-Walton still in control at Luskintyre Aviation Flying Museum

A flying farewell Nancy Bird-Walton [Picture credit: Renee Geelen]

At 10am on Saturday 18 April 2009, at Luskintyre Airfield, a gathering of friends of the Luskintyre Aviation Flying Museum will celebrate the establishment of the Nancy Bird-Walton Memorial Aviation Tower.

The friends include people who have supported the airfield since its beginning in 1978 including families and friends who have visited on many occasions picnicking whilst enjoying the spectacular flight of yesteryear. Sitting on the manicured lawns, listening to the putt putt of these little bi-planes that our world war 2 pilots trained with, and remembering or learning a very important part of Australia’s heritage.

Many of our friends come from organizations such as antique car, antique motorcycle and antique aircraft clubs and organizations and will join us this Saturday.

Luskintyre Aviation Flying Museum boasts the largest collection of De Havilland Tiger Moths (DH82) in the world.

Currently over 20 Tiger moths are in restoration in one of the few restoration hangers left in Australia. These aircraft are handcrafted from wood and fabric by men in age groups 20 to 80 years.

Nancy Bird Walton has enjoyed and supported this flying environment over the many years as a friend of the museum and special friend of Kevin Weldon AM, Australia’s most notable publisher, an avid aviator, member of the Luskintyre Aviation museum and owner of bi-planes including a French Stampe, De Havilland Tiger Moth and Eurocopter helicopter.

Because Nancy Bird Walton had such a strong connection with this unique airfield and its members and bi-planes, the friends felt it fitting to erect a 1930’s style control tower at the Luskintyre Airfield as a memorial to her great aviation achievements.

Nancy was a cautious pilot and in all her years of flying, never had an accident. Nancy will be there in sprit looking over our Tiger Moths and their passionate aviators.

The Hunter Valley, Maitland and Newcastle area can be proud of this part of Australian heritage.

It is anticipated after the funding has been completed construction of this tower will begin towards the end of June with a special unveiling later in the year.

A significant friend and supporter of the Luskintigers is five times world motorcycling champion, and aviator, Mick Doohan who will be flying in for the week-end to launch the memorial, which will be a treat especially for the antique motorcycle enthusiasts. Mick, who flies state of the art helicopters of his own, is involved in the aviation industry and has always enjoyed his visits to Luskintyre flying over the horse studs, vineyards and valleys into a unique airfield, with special historical attachment.

Nancy Bird-Walton Oct 16 1915 – Jan 13 2009

On Sunday 19 April, at the request of Nancy Bird Walton’s family, three of the Luskintyre Aviation Museum’s tiger moths will fly in formation from Luskintyre Airfield, in the Maitland area, north to Nancy’s home town of Kew, originally a sawmilling town where Nancy was born and grew up as the daughter of the owner of the general store just south of Port Macquarie.

Nancy Bird Walton’s daughter and granddaughter and immediate family will join us on Saturday at the airfield before proceeding to Kew, on the north coast of NSW.

Nancy as a 5ft tall bubbly pretty redhead learned to fly at the age of 17.

When jobs were difficult to obtain as a pilot, Nancy Bird at 19 became the youngest woman in the Empire to obtain a commercial license. Nancy became known as “The angel of the outback” for her flying ambulance service in the 1930’s. Nancy was a commandant of the woman’s air training which supported RAAF pilots during the Second World War. Nancy learnt on a DeHavilland Gypsy Moth DH60 and owned her first plane which was a De Havilland DH85 bought by her fatherand aunt.

The always beautiful and elegant aviator, Nancy Bird-Walton at Luskintyre Airfield after a flight in a De Havilland Tiger Moth (DH82)