Locals rejoice at Sydney's second airport to be named after Nancy-Bird Walton from Kew

Nancy-Bird Walton at Kingsford Smith Flying School, 1933. The  main street in Kew is named after Nancy Bird-Walton.
Nancy-Bird Walton at Kingsford Smith Flying School, 1933. The main street in Kew is named after Nancy Bird-Walton.

Locals have welcomed news Sydney's second airport will be named after pioneering pilot Nancy-Bird Walton.

The Prime Minister Scott Morrison made the annoucement earlier this week. 

Nancy Bird-Walton was born in Kew in 1915.

92-year-old Don Bailey from Dunbogan had been campaigning for the  airport at Western Sydney to be named after the aviation legend.

"Nancy did it tough, she was a true pioneer," he said.

"I lived in her time I know how tough she did it."

In 2016 Mr Bailey wrote to then Prime Minister Tony Abbott urging him to consider honouring Australia’s first female commercial pilot. 

A year later Mr Bailey wrote to then Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and local member Dr David Gillespie on the issue including a petition containing hundreds of signatures. 

Given Sydney’s existing airport is named after Sir Charles Kingsford-Smith, naming the second in honour of Nancy-Bird Walton made sense to Mr Bailey. 

“Nancy was one of Sir Charles Kingsford-Smith’s first students at his flying school at Mascot,” Mr Bailey said.

Nancy-Bird Walton was an aviation pioneer.

Nancy-Bird Walton was an aviation pioneer.

“To have the main airport named after the teacher and the second airport named after the student fits to my mind."

Although Ms Bird Walton wasn’t the first qualified female pilot in Australia, she was the first to gain her commercial licence two years later.

With that, she took off on a tour of Australia, giving joyrides at country fairs to people who had never seen a plane before, let alone one being flown by a tiny female pilot.

Mr Bailey said the conditions Ms Bird Walton worked in were not easy. 

"I worked at Bourke and she used to park her plane under a pepper tree when she was flying for the Royal Far West Children’s Scheme.

I know of some of the tough conditions she faced as a woman pilot.”

For navigation she often used road maps, and made many landings in paddocks dotted with dangerous rabbit holes.

Nancy-Bird Walton pictured in 2003.

Nancy-Bird Walton pictured in 2003.

Known as the "Angel of the Outback" she transporting the sick from isolated regions around the country and helped set up the Royal Far West Children's Health Scheme and was an early pilot for the Royal Flying Doctors' Service.

She founded the Australian Women Pilots’ Association in 1950, and remained its president until 1990.

In 1966 she was awarded the Order of the British Empire (OBE) and made an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) in 1990.

Volunteer at the iKew Visitor Information Centre Gavan Grayston said the whole town of Kew had been thrilled with the news. 

"The centre is on Nancy Bird Walton Drive," he said. 

"I think it is a marvellous idea to put our forebears forward."

Walton held her pilots licence until three years before her death, aged 93, in Sydney in 2000.

Western Sydney International, to be also known as the Nancy-Bird Walton Airport, is due to open in 2026