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Maude Rose ‘Lores’ Bonney MBE AM

1897 – 1994

Maude Rose ‘Lores’ Bonney MBE AM (1897-1994), aviatrix, grew up in Melbourne and attended a German finishing school before marrying a Queensland leather-goods manufacturer in 1917. Bert Hinkler was her husband’s cousin, and she took her early flying lessons in secret, while her husband was at golf. When she admitted to her new interest, he had suede flying gear made for her and bought her a de Havilland Gypsy Moth, which she called My Little Ship. In this craft she made her first record-breaking flight, from Brisbane to Wangaratta on Boxing Day 1931. The following year, in the same plane, she became the first woman to circumnavigate Australia by air, and in 1933, again in her Little Ship, she became the first woman to fly solo from Australia to England. For the latter feat, every stage and misadventure of which was reported in Australia, she received the MBE. In 1937 she flew a Klemm aircraft, My Little Ship II, to South Africa. My Little Ship II was destroyed by fire at Archerfield aerodrome in Queensland in 1939. That year, unwanted by the armed forces, she stopped flying, turning her attention to gardening and bonsai. My Little Ship, requisitioned for the war effort, was scrapped afterwards. The Powerhouse Museum holds a good deal of Lores Bonney’s flying paraphernalia.

Updated 2018