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ON DISPLAY

Mrs Bonney flying from Australia to South Africa via Siam. Singapore 1937 (full length portrait)

by an unknown artist

carbon print photograph (sheet: 10.0 cm x 15.0 cm)

Maude Rose ‘Lores’ Bonney MBE AM (1897–1994), aviatrix, was born in South Africa, grew up in Melbourne and attended a German finishing school before marrying Harry Barrington Bonney, a Queensland businessman, in 1917. Her husband’s cousin, Bert Hinkler – who in 1928 made the first solo flight from England to Australia – took her for her first flight, after which she declared that flying was the ‘answer to my dreams: I adored birds, and there I was literally feeling like one.’ She had her first flying lessons from Hinkler, in secret, while her husband was playing golf. When she admitted to her new interest, he bought her a bespoke suede flying suit and a de Havilland Gypsy Moth which she named ‘My Little Ship’. In this aircraft she set a new distance record for women, flying from Brisbane to Wangaratta in 1931. In 1932 she became the first woman to circumnavigate Australia by air, and in 1933 she became the first woman to fly solo from Australia to England. In 1937 she flew a Klemm aircraft, My Little Ship II, to South Africa. My Little Ship II was destroyed by fire in 1939. She gave up flying shortly afterwards – having been advised by the armed forces that women pilots were of no use during war – and in later years devoted her time to gardening and bonsai.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery, Canberra
Purchased 2012
Accession number: 2012.140