NGPA Australia was honored to have been invited to the inaugural Women in Aviation Open Day presented by the Queensland Air Museum. The museum, which is entirely run by volunteers, has been dedicated to preserving Australia's aviation heritage for over 80 years, with a collection of more than 80 historic military and civilian aircraft located at Caloundra Aerodrome on the Sunshine Coast, the traditional home of the Kabi Kabi people.
The event showcased several guest speakers, including the Australian chapter's very own member Naomi McQueen. Naomi’s aviation career began when she decided to become an in-air traffic controller. With over 20 years of experience, she is still loving the challenges, responsibility, and excitement that being a controller brings. She has recently widened her focus by being elected as vice president of the Sunshine Aero Club, an aero club that has been operating continuously since 1959. Naomi was also recently awarded a Certificate of Recognition by Air Services Australia under their ‘Living Our Values’ initiative for her outstanding contribution to International Women’s Day activities. She is also working on promoting changes in the field of aviation by educating and encouraging community members to consider a career in the industry, by working hard to improve the environment of the aero club with the intention to support and encourage emerging aviators by creating a welcoming environment for all, while continuing on supporting women in various aviation roles outside of becoming a pilot.
Naomi was joined by several guest speakers, including Air Vice Marshal (Ret'd) Julie Hammer, the first woman to command an operational unit in the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF); Deborah Lawrie, Australia's first female airline pilot, after successfully winning a landmark sexual discrimination case against her employer becoming the first successful case in Australia; and Lauren Jones, winner of the Civil Aviation Safety Authority's (CASA) Young Wings Aviators Award and an executive team member in her student organizations. Lauren is also the recipient of the Sir Samuel Griffith Connect Scholarship, Griffith University Award for Academic Excellence, NASA and Houston Association for Space and Science Education Scholarship, School Academic Medal, and Academic Excellence Awards.
These women spoke of the challenges they faced in their careers, the misogyny they faced, and some of the challenges that women today still face, in an industry that is still less than 10% female, with the RAAF only in 2015 allowing all roles in the military to be open to women. They also spoke about how they are actively working to encourage women to not only become civil or military pilots but to look at roles in aerospace engineering, airport operations as well as various military roles & to break the stigmas that are still present in these roles, as well as speaking how we all can work together to make this industry more inclusive to all.
The Australian chapter attendance was made possible with the work of our lovely volunteers Jenny Williams, Jesmond Blye & Dylan James, who engaged the general public to talk & discuss the hard work the NGPA undertakes to build, support, and unite the LGBTQ+ aviation community worldwide & the hard work NGPA’s women’s committee undertakes women, femme, and female-identifying members of our LGBTQ+ community & showcase just some of the events they hold throughout the year.