DEBRIEF


Farewell to Lorna deBlicquy

Lorna deBlicquy

Pioneering aviator Lorna deBlicquy died peacefully at age 77 on Saturday, March 21, 2009.

Her daughter, Elaine deBlicquy, reported that "she had been doing quite well recently and was reading, as she usually did, voraciously. She had dinner...and sat down in a chair overlooking Lake Simcoe where she just ‘went to sleep’."

Lorna deBlicquy spent her life flying and fighting for women’s rights, particularly in the field of aviation. She learned to fly at the Atlas Aviation Flying School in Ottawa, Ont., and soloed a J-3 Cub at age 15. She became Canada’s first woman parachutist a year later and, at the same time, the youngest person to parachute jump.

She found flying jobs hard to come by in the 1950s in Canada as most employers would not hire "girl pilots," but through perseverance she instructed flying, did bush flying, and became a glider and helicopter pilot. She also flew DC-3s and Twin Otters, including for famine relief in Ethiopia in 1986.

Lorna became very well known in Canada for her outspoken approach to gender equality in aviation, writing many letters, and being interviewed for newspapers and on radio. In 1977, Transport Canada hired her and she became Canada’s first female civil aviation inspector, commuting to Toronto, Ont., every week from her home in Ottawa. After two years, she worked freelance in various departments of Transport Canada under contract throughout Eastern Ontario. Lorna was an honorary life member of both the Ninety-Nines and the Ottawa Flying Club. She was also a member of the women’s helicopter association (The Whirly Girls) and the Canadian Owners and Pilots Association(COPA). She served on many advisory committees, including those of the Canada Aviation Museum, Algonquin College and the Air Transport Association of Canada(ATAC).

Lorna won many awards and tokens of recognition for her work, including a Ninety-Nines Amelia Earhart Scholarship, Outstanding Contribution to the Science and Technology Museums, Ninety-Nines Award of Merit, The Trans-Canada (McKee) Trophy, an FAI(Fédération Aéronautique Internationale) Diploma, the Order of Ontario, the Order of Canada, and the Governor General’s Award in Commemoration of the Persons Case, for women who fought for equality. She was also inducted into the International Women in Aviation Pioneer Hall of Fame.

Lorna deBlicquy addressed a joint meeting of COPA Flight 8, the Eastern Canada Chapter of the Ninety-Nines, EAA Chapter 245, and several other associations at the Canada Aviation Museum on March 22, 2006, a talk that will be remembered for a long time by those in attendance. An account of the presentation written by Ruth Merkis-Hunt is available on COPA Flight 8’s Recent Events Web site (web.ncf.ca/fn352/flight8/recent.html).

Lorna deBlicquy was a trailblazer, one of Canada’s best-known women pilots and one of the most experienced. She overcame many barriers and was tireless in her efforts to advance the cause for women in Canadian aviation. After a long and colourful career, Lorna retired from full-time flying in October 1999. As local pilot Bob Berthelet aptly put it, "I know she will be missed by us all."

This article is based on the COPA Flight 8 tribute, found at web.ncf.ca/fn352/flight8/, which was itself based on the story of Lorna deBlicquy on the Ninety-Nines’ Web page at www.canadian99s.org/articles/P_deblicquy.htm. -Ed.

Transport Canada is pleased to announce the appointment of
Mr. Martin Eley to the position of Director General,
Civil Aviation, effective May 4, 2009
.

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