It’s been a controversial topic for many years but construction of the Western Sydney International Airport is going ahead at full steam – on track for completion in 2026 – and now it has a name.
Western Sydney International (Nancy-Bird Walton) Airport was unveiled as the Airport’s operating name by Prime Minister Scott Morrison, who was joined by members of Nancy-Bird’s family.
Western Sydney Airport Chief Executive Officer Graham Millett said Nancy-Bird Walton’s pioneering spirit made her the perfect namesake for the transformational infrastructure project.
“I think it is a fitting recognition of a trailblazing aviator and one of Australia’s great pioneers, Nancy-Bird Walton.”
Nancy-Bird Walton was the youngest woman in the Commonwealth to gain a commercial pilot’s licence. Training under Sir Charles Kingsford Smith, Ms Walton learned to fly with the intention of making a living as a pilot.
She bought a de Havilland Gipsy Moth biplane when she was 19 and began a regional tour, showing off her flying skills to people who had never seen a plane before, and offering rides for 10 shillings per person. In 1935 as a 20-year-old, she began flying as a pilot for the Royal Far West Children’s Health Scheme, using her Gipsy Moth as an air ambulance. She would eventually be flying to areas the Royal Flying Doctors Service couldn’t get to. Nancy saved countless lives during this time.
In 1950, she founded the Australian Women Pilot’s Association. Their aim was, and still is, to assist women in achieving their goals in aviatrix. Later in life she published two autobiographies, and was declared a national living treasure by National Trust of Australia. In 2008, Qantas named their first Airbus A380 plane in honour of the woman who pioneered aviation in Australia; Nancy-Bird Walton. Nancy said that this was the greatest honour she’s ever received. She passed away in 2009, aged 93.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison stated,
“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”.
Western Sydney International (Nancy Bird-Walton) will be about the size of Gold Coast Airport when it opens in 2026 and will gradually grow in stages over decades to become the nation’s largest aviation gateway, handling 82 million passengers travelling through it a year by around 2063.