Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Nancy-Bird Walton

I think Nancy-Bird Walton was an aviator. It's funny, because yesterday Jack and I watched a Brainpop movie about Amelia Earhart.

The other thing about Nancy-Bird Walton is I think she might be on that extremely overwhelming Australian biography website. I haven't been there in awhile. I'm not sure if I look forward to going back to it.

I'm tired, and in a blah weird mood. Why? I just finished reading the second installment of the adventures of Bella the human and Edward the vampire. It's a great book. I agree with the masses. But I found reading it to be very emotionally draining. I overidentified with the characters. I'm taking a break before reading the next two books.

Anyway, I guess I shall go and learn about Nancy-Bird Walton. I'm not going to go to a lot of websites. If she's on the overwhelming biography site, that will take me hours to read. So, I'll just look at Lord Wiki and that one.

Lord Wiki says that baby Nancy was born on 16 October 1915 in Kew New South Wales.

Kew is in northern New South Wales. It's close to Port Macquarie. It's home to a giant ax.

I felt compelled to compare Nancy's birthday to Earhart's. Earhart was much older. She would have been about eighteen when Nancy was born. I'm guessing Earhart would have had some influence on Nancy.

Walton had her teen years during the Depression. Because of this, she ended up leaving school at the age of thirteen to work. Her family needed the money.

When Walton was eighteen (in 1933), another famous Aussie aviator, Charles Kingsford Smith, opened up a pilot school. Bird was one of his first students.

Lord Wiki says that most women who learned to fly, in those days, did it for recreation. Walton planned to use her skills as a career.

By the time Walton was nineteen, she had obtained her commercial pilot's license.

She bought a type of plane called a Gypsy Moth. It's a British plane with two seats.

Walton and her friend took the plane and went riding around the area. They stopped off and showed off their plane to people who had never seen one before. They even gave some people some rides.

While doing her whirlwind tour, Walton met a reverend. He encouraged her to use her plane for medical needs. She used her plane to operate an air ambulance service in the outback of New South Wales. Did she know how to do medical stuff, or did she have a doctor or nurse fly with her?

In 1936 Walton won the Ladies Trophy for a race from Adelaide to Brisbane. She would have been about twenty-one at the time. A couple of years later she took a break from her flying. She went to Europe to do some promotional stuff.

She returned to Australia for World War II. She trained women to do work for the Royal Australian Air Force. I don't think women actually got to fly in the force. Lord Wiki says that she trained them in skills needed to back up the men flying. I'm not sure what that exactly means, or what type of skills he's referring to.

When Walton was twenty-four, she got married.

In 1850, she founded the Australian Women Pilot Association. If any Australian women out there is interesting in flying, their website has some information about getting your pilot's license. The minimum age to fly solo is sixteen. I'd be very impressed with a teenager who could fly a plane. Really though....I'm impressed with ANYONE who can fly a plane. Although I probably wouldn't want to take a joyride with them. I don't like small planes.

Walton died recently.  I vaguely remember hearing that now. I totally forgot. She died in January.

Anyway, that's about it for Lord Wiki. I shall go to to overwhelming biography site now.

I'll start with part 1.

Oh! This interview has only four parts! Awesome. Maybe it won't be too overwhelming.

She says she was born thirty miles north of Taree. I wonder if that's Kew she's talking about.

Yeah. I'm looking at Google Maps. It looks like Kew could be the town.

She was born with the help of a midwife. There were no doctors nearby to do the job.

Walton talks very fondly of the midwife. She says, I was nearly lost but this wonderful woman Mrs. Ritchie was a person that went through storm and tempest, flooded rivers, flooded creeks, to help the women in that district to deliver their children. And she saved my life.

Walton's mother had been born in New Zealand. I wonder when she came to Australia.

When Walton was about five, the family moved to Collaroy. Google Maps shows Collaroy as being very close to Sydney, about thirty-five minutes north.

In Collaroy, Walton went to a small private school.

Their second home in Collaroy had views of Dee Why Beach. When Walton was eight, she saw a plane make a forced landing on the beach. This image had a profound effect on her life. It seems it must have inspired her. I would think for most children it might frighten them.

She seemed to have a huge attraction to airplanes. There was the Dee Why incident. Then in school, she spotted a plane doing skywriting. She was supposed to go to her next class:sewing. Instead she stood watching the plane.

Walton had an older sister, but it was Walton that was asked to quit school and work instead. Her sister had been a better student. Walton was the more practical one. She was asked to help her father at his store, and help her mother with her homemaker stuff. Walton says she didn't mind any of this at all.

Walton is asked if she ever did well in school. She says that she was a bit of a rebel. She only did well if she liked the teacher.

There was a pilot that worked at her father's store. He was very adventurous. I'm sure he inspired Walton in some way.

When she was thirteen she went to an air pageant. She says this is when she got the desire to fly. There, she went up on a ride with a pilot. I guess it was a lot of fun for her. Flying became her passion. She got herself a book about it, and started studying. Walton says her father was supportive at first, but then later acted scared that she'd kill herself. It sounds like he supported her when it all was more of a pipe dream. He probably assumed this was just some kind of adolescent fantasy, and she'd soon get over it.

As Jack and I learned in the Brainpop video yesterday, flying in those days was fairly dangerous. So Walton's dad wasn't exactly being OVERprotective. Walton truly was taking a big risk. Still, it was her dream, so.....

What do we do when our grown children want to do something that's dangerous? There comes a time when we can't forbid it. Do we try to talk them out of it? Is it okay to destroy someone's dream because we have fears? Do we encourage them, but add in a few dire warnings?

I don't know....

Walton had to come up with her own money to pay for the classes with Kingsford-Smith. She says she managed this by being economical...for example, sewing her own clothes.

Walton says her father didn't stop her from taking the lessons. And her mother was supportive. Walton believes this was due to the fact that she had five siblings. She feels an only child would be too precious.

I don't really understand that mindset. Once I talked to a mother of three. She gave me a hard time about having an only child. She talked about someone losing their one and only child...how horrible it was for them. Of course, it was horrible. But how is it less horrible if you have other children? Do mothers sit there and say. Oops, we lost Johnny. But that's okay. We still have Bill and Joe! I think losing a child is devastating no matter what. Although I guess for some people, the main reason they have children is to pass on their genes. In that case, losing the ONE and only child would be extra devastating. There's no chance of grandchildren and great grandchildren. For some people, that's extremely important.

Walton is asked what she learned in her childhood. Walton says she learned that if there's a job to be done, do it. I think that's a great thing to have learned. I often follow the rule, but not always. Sometimes, if there's a job to be done, I wait for Tim to do it.

It took Walton a little over a month to get her A license. I'm not sure what an A license is. Maybe it's the license that's a step under the commercial one?

When Walton was learning from Kingsford-Smith he was already super famous. So here she was taking lessons from a big celebrity. I wonder if that made her nervous at all.

Walton says in her days, it was much easier to get a license. These days there is more legislation, and therefore more to learn.

Walton says when she was flying in those early years, pilots were seen as wild daredevils. It was a crazy hobby. People hadn't taken to the idea of using planes as transportation.

Walton is asked what made her so attracted to flying. She says, I can't put my finger on it. I just don't know. This is how I feel when people ask me why I'm so obsessed with Australia. It's just something you can't really explain. I can share events and experiences that led up to all of this. But that still doesn't explain the why of it all.

In 1930, a woman named Amy Johnson flew in Australia. Walton says she was jealous of her. I can relate to that to! I had this secret desire to visit Australia, but I kept telling myself I'd never do something like that. It was too far away. There were too many venomous creatures. The airplane ride was way too long. But then my brother-in-law announced that he and my sister were taking a trip to Australia. And my cousin announced she was MOVING to Australia. I was so jealous. And that jealousy pushed me to ask Tim if we could take a trip there too.

Walton talks about her father letting her borrow money to buy the plane. I think it's so nice that he came through for her like that. It's nice when friends and family support our decisions, even though it doesn't always come immediately.

Now I'm finally on part 2. These parts are awfully long. Maybe this interview isn't shorter than the other ones I've seen. Maybe they've just made the parts longer.

When Walton and her friend went flying around offering people rides, they charged ten shillings for it. It was a way for them to make a small bit of money.

When Walton flew the air ambulance, she didn't do the medical stuff. A sister did...as in a Catholic nun type thing. At least that's what I THINK they mean by sister.

Walton talks about how it was so great for these people to have an air ambulance. Without them, it might take six hours for a doctor to reach them. But with the airplane, they could get help in about an hour.

Walton worked in the New South Wales outback for several months. Then she moved to Queensland and worked for the Queensland Children Bush Scheme. She tried to get the Queensland government to develop a flying doctor program, but they weren't interested. Eventually, they did though.

Walton talks about how some people were nasty towards her. At some point, she was living at a hotel. Some man made nasty comments about this--making inferences about her reputation. She also says that some women in Bourke acted jealous of her adventurous lifestyle. She says, oh, you know, would be a little bit catty, especially, sort of, the creme de menthe, cake eating, bridge playing women who didn't ... couldn't get out of Bourke.

When someone disapproves of something, I think it's sometimes because they're insecure about their own choices. When we're happy with our own lives and decisions, I think we're more open to other people making difference decisions.

But not always. Sometimes disapproval IS about someone truly feeling superior to another person.

There's a thin line between both of these situations. I find it often hard to tell the difference between the two.

All right. Now I'm on part 3.

Walton never had a plane crash. That's good.

She talks about how she got burned out from the whole thing. It sounds like she had a bit of a nervous breakdown...or sort of. She says, But I don't think it was a breakdown but I would say it was controlled cracking.

The interviewer calls it a crisis, and Walton agrees with her.

I guess what happened is she came to a point where she couldn't fly anymore. It seems some of it came from fear. She lost friends to flying. I can imagine that eventually that begins to get to you.

Oh! Walton was supposed to fly a man somewhere, and she couldn't do it. He ended up having to take a train. I think Walton felt a lot of shame for this.

Walton then went to Europe to do promotional type work. It was airplane related, and she rode IN airplanes. She just didn't fly them.

She met her husband on a ship coming from America. She had traveled there after Europe. It was a ship romance. Walton says, It was a ship board romance that lasted fifty-one and a half years. That's sweet.

Walton talks about the sexism that occurred during World War II. She talks about how the flight of two women pilots, who had both the talent and experience, was stopped simply because of their gender.

Walton says she began flying again in 1950. Her break from flying lasted twelve years. That's pretty long. Actually, she says she returned in the 1950's, not 1950. And Lord Wiki says it was 1958. If he's right, that means she had a twenty year break from flying.

In the interview, she says that she entered the Powder Puff Derby in America. Walton says she enjoyed returning to flying, but she never fully regained her confidence. For then on, she chose more often to be co-pilot than the main pilot.

Okay. Now I'm on part 4.

Walton talks about getting involved with politics. It seems she wasn't one of my people. She took the side of the Liberal Party. She'd get along with certain Americans today. She helped start an organization for women against socialism.

What I DO like is she tried to convince women to get involved with politics, and not simply vote for who their husbands tell them to. Walton say she felt guilty the first time she voted opposite of her husband.

The interview was done in 1992. Walton was in her seventies at the time. She's asked how she has stayed so healthy. Walton seems to give some of the credit to simply having good luck with health. But she also says it's about staying busy. She says, you say you're not going to do a thing, no you won't do it, but you end up doing it you know. So it's rather fun to see how much you can fit into a day sometimes. It might be a bit exhausting by the end of the day, but you don't feel it until you stop.
I stay very busy. But it's not with impressive active stuff. I'm not one of those people who has a job, does volunteer work after that, and then comes home and runs a book club in their living room.

I spend a lot of time reading, researching, learning, etc. I usually bite off more than I imagine I can chew. But I usually get more done than I imagined I would. My brain is VERY active. I guess that's good. I'm having fun. I'm enjoying life. The only maybe downside of this busy feeling is time zooms by way too fast. I feel like I'm on fast forward. I feel like I'll blink and be an eighty-year old with grandchildren.

Walton talks about how it's important not to have the attitude of It's-not-my-job. So that made me think of when Tim leaves his clothes on the bathroom floor. I walk past it in a huff and think it's not my job to clean that up. When I do laundry I sometimes ignore those clothes. I leave it there, hoping he'll learn his lesson. I feel it's not my job to put his clothes in the laundry basket. Reading what she said though made me think twice. If the clothes on the floor bother me, should I just be a good wife and pick them up? I do this with Jack too often. It's so MUCH easier for me to pick up his huge messes rather than fighting with him about it. And we HAVE been fighting about it. It's probably one of our biggest parent/child struggles.

Anyway, then Walton says People just drop their clothes and expect somebody else to pick them up and that happens in a family all the time.

Now she has me totally confused. Should I get rid of the it's-not-my-job attitude and pick up Tim's clothes for him? Or should I not pick up his clothes, so he doesn't develop an it's-not-my-job attitude?

Honestly though, Tim does a TON of favors for me. I probably owe him. Maybe what I should do is think of the picking-the-clothes-up as MY job and not his job. Maybe it would be best if I simply imagine that as being one of my responsibilities.

Yeah, that's probably for the best.

I hope he doesn't read all this. If he does, he might take advantage of me. That's the thing with humans. You give them an inch and they try to take a mile.

Walton talks about stuff like feminism. She's all for women getting ahead in the world, but she believes they should retain their femininity. She says, It's wonderful to behave like a woman and for men to treat you as a woman and I don't see why we can't retain that, as well as developing our intellectual capacity.

I agree with that to a point. I don't think all men were born to be masculine. And not all women were born to be feminine. I don't think these people should have to conform to something that they're not. But I also think women who ARE feminine shouldn't have to suppress this in order to get ahead in the world.

I consider myself a feminist. I believe women should have equal rights. I believe a woman can be a firefighter. I believe she can be the CEO of a corporation. I think she can be Prime Minister or President.

But I'm also a woman who likes pink. I love pink. I like dresses and long skirts. I like some forms of chivalry....especially when it involves a man protecting the women that he loves. One of the things that I loved most about Twilight is how Edward is so protective towards Bella. He works hard to keep her from harm. I've never had that from a man, and it's something I've always longed for. I'm guessing since the book is so popular....I'm not the only one.

I feel today that these sentiments are frowned upon. It seems men want women who are very strong and independent. They want the woman who says I'm fine! I can do it on my own. I don't need your help. Don't worry about me. I think women DO want to say these things, but then I think they want the man to insist on protecting them anyway. We want to be both brave and protected....all at the same time. Or maybe I'm just speaking for myself.

Walton talks about some very early childhood memories connected to flying. None of them sound very significant to me. She dreamed of flying. I dream of flying. I think a lot of people do. I don't really think it has much to do with aviation. She says she remembers stretching out her arms and pretending to be an airplane. I think all kids do that...or most of them.

Walton is asked how she feels about death. She doesn't really fear it, but she hopes it doesn't happen while she's off alone in the wilderness somewhere. She wants to die among people. Well, it's weird that I'm writing that in the present tense. She's already dead. I hoped she died the way she had hoped to die.

She says she hopes there is an afterlife, but doesn't put too much thought into it. She believes it is better to concentrate on THIS life. I think that's a good attitude to have.

The interview ends with a discussion about boredom. Walton talks about how you can avoid this feeling because there's always something you can do. I think that's true in most cases.

I think there's two kinds of boredom. The first is where you feel like you have nothing to do. This can usually be alleviated by FINDING something to do. With the Internet, it's not that hard these days. Plus, there's always a book that can be read, someone to call, a TV show to watch, a game to play, a place to go, etc.

The second kind of boredom is where we're forced to do something that is not interesting to us. We might have to read something we don't want to read. We have conversations with people we don't want to talk to. We have to sit through religious services. We wait in line. We sit in traffic......

I think this second type of boredom is much harder to deal with. I felt it a lot during the first years of motherhood. I loved baby Jack....tremendously. But I think the fun of bouncing a baby on my knee and playing peek-a-boo only went so far. In massive doses, I felt it was torture.

I'm SO glad that baby Jack is now eight-year-old Jack. He's much more fun now. I enjoy playing with my baby nephew in very small doses. Then I thankfully hand him back to my sister.

Speaking of Jack, we're going to play a game of Monopoly together. So I'm going to quit now.

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