New Western Sydney airport named after pioneering Australian aviator, Nancy Bird-Walton

By Holly Cormack 4 March 2019
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Sydney’s new international airport has been named in honour of Nancy-Bird Walton, one of Australia’s greatest aviators and heroes of the outback.

SYDNEY’S NEWEST airport at Badgerys Creek is set to be christened Western Sydney International (Nancy-Bird Walton) Airport, in honour of Australia’s ‘Angel of the Outback’. The airport is currently scheduled to open in December 2026.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has described Ms Walton as an ‘inspiring’ and ‘natural choice’ for the airport.

“It is fitting that having recognised Charles Kingsford Smith at Sydney Airport that we now recognise Australia’s greatest female aviation pioneer, Nancy-Bird Walton in the naming of Western Sydney Airport,” Mr Morrison said.

At just 17 years of age, Nancy-Bird enrolled in Charles Kingsford Smith’s flying school in Mascot, Sydney. By the time she was 19, she was a fully qualified pilot – defying the traditional role of women at this time.

The first female pilot in the Commonwealth licensed to carry passengers, Nancy-Bird began her career by flying nurses to the Australian outback; providing children and mothers in isolated areas with much needed medical assistance.

At the age of 35, Nancy-Bird founded the Australian Women Pilots’ Association (AWPA), and remained president of the organisation until 1990.

In recognition of her generous support of several charities and those in need, she was awarded the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in 1966 and made an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) in 1990.