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Nancy Bird Walton part one

In their own words

Recorded 1977

Nancy Bird Walton part one
Audio: 2 minutes

If you want me to sum up my philosophy of life, well, what would I say? It matters not who you are but what you are. Doesn’t matter what you’ve got in your bank account, it matters what you’ve got in your heart, and above all that, well, it’s good to remember that above the clouds the sun is always shining.

Perhaps from those days, when I looked out from the verandah of our house at Collaroy out into the Pacific Ocean, saw that great expanse of Long Reef, the beach and the aeroplane that landed on it. You see, flying isn’t very different. You take off, into the great open sky, you see the great beauty of the land that people climb mountains or rush up hills to see, and suddenly you’re alone and completely and utterly responsible for yourself. And I think that that’s what makes flying people appreciate life so much and there is a sort of an artistic freedom in flying.

I think that flying people are different – no better, no worse than other people – but different. People who’ve flown solo, for it’s the only thing in the world in which you’re completely alone and completely and utterly responsible for yourself. You voluntarily remove yourself from your loved ones, from your way of life, from everything around you and you voluntarily return. You have to find that little scratch upon the face of the earth that is an airfield or something that you can land on, to come back and join the human race. So you have time to think, you have time to see things in their right setting, you have time to see how insignificant are the petty little jealousies, or ambitions and things of the world. And the scratches, literally the scratches, that man has made upon the surface of this great world, and perhaps you appreciate life more fully because of that, and try to look on the sunny side.

Acknowledgements

This oral history of Nancy Bird Walton is from the De Berg Collection in the National Library of Australia. For more information, or to hear full versions of the recordings, visit the National Library of Australia website.

Related people

Nancy Bird Walton AO OBE

Related information

Nancy Bird Walton, c. 1938
Nancy Bird Walton, c. 1938
Nancy Bird Walton, c. 1938
Nancy Bird Walton, c. 1938

The aviatrix

Magazine article by Joanna Gilmour, 2009

Joanna Gilmour explores the extraordinary life of Australian female aviator Nancy Bird Walton AO OBE

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The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders past and present. We respectfully advise that this site includes works by, images of, names of, voices of and references to deceased people.

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