Australia Day 2016 – ICAO & RAeS – “Nancy-Bird Walton Lecture”

Update – 4 March 2019

I feel both surprised and proud.

Today it was announced that the $5.3 billion Western Sydney Airport will officially become the Western Sydney International (Nancy-Bird Walton) Airport.

The campaign to rename the airport started when I presented the inaugural Nancy-Bird Walton Lecture on behalf of the Royal Aeronautical Society (RAeS)  at the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) Headquarters, Montreal on Monday, 25th January, 2016.

My efforts were assisted phenomenally by Charles Curran AC who is an active philanthropist in the greatest areas of Australian life.  Thank you Charles.

Thanks to the politicians that effected this change:

    • the Honourable Malcolm Turnbull (Prime Minister)
    • the Honourable Scott Morrison (Prime Minister)
    • the Honourables: Warren Truss, Darren Chester, Barnaby Joyce and Michael McCormack (Ministers for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development).

All Australians should feel proud of this development.  It is absolutely the right thing to do.  Our two most iconic pilots, Sir Charles Kingsford Smith and Nancy-Bird Walton, will soon and together welcome passengers to Sydney and Australia.


Original Post – 9th January 2016



(Photo Bernard C Cornell CD)

(Photo Jean LaRoche)

I was honoured to present the inaugural Nancy-Bird Walton Lecture on behalf of the Royal Aeronautical Society (RAeS)  at the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) Headquarters Assembly Hall, Montreal on Monday, 25th January, 2016.

Kerryn Macaulay Head of Mission Australian Representative on the Council of ICAO . Capt Donald L Van Dyke, FRAeS Permanent Representative to ICAO RAeS (Photo Bernard C Cornell CD)

Christopher B Lyle FRAeS, past Chairman, RAeS Montreal Branch, Kerryn Macaulay, Head of Mission and Australian Representative on the Council of ICAO, Capt Donald L Van Dyke FRAeS, Chairman, RAeS Montreal Branch and Permanent Representative to ICAO of the RAeS (Photo Bernard C Cornell CD)

ICAO Air Navigation Commission Chamber

ICAO Air Navigation Commission Chamber

International Civil Aviation Authority (ICAO)


Dr. Fang Liu, Secretary General of ICAO

Dr. Fang Liu, Secretary General of ICAO

ICAO was created in 1944 to provide administration and governance for 191 UN Member States and industry groups.

ICAO is the pinnacle of aviation organisations.  It was my career highlight to present to friends and representatives from organisations that include:

Nancy-Bird Walton Lecture

Capt Donald L Van Dyke, FRAeS Permanent Representative to ICAO RAeS (Photo Bernard C Cornell CD)

RAeS and ICAO Honour Nancy-Bird Walton (Montreal 15 Jan 2016) (Photo Jean LaRoche)

I presented then took questions about:

Australia Day 2016

Fortunately the 25th January in Canada was “Australia Day“, the 26th January in Australia.

ICAO’s commissioners have the highest regard for Australia.  Australia has responsibility for and controls nine percent of the world’s airspace.  Over 200 attendees mixed and enjoyed refreshments after the presentation.

 RAeS and ICAO Honour Nancy-Bird Walton (Montreal 15 Jan 2016) (Photo Jean LaRoche)

RAeS and ICAO Honour Nancy-Bird Walton (Montreal 25 Jan 2016) (Photo Jean LaRoche)

Nancy-Bird Walton


“My God, I’m not going to fly in that. The pilot’s a woman!”  (My God it’s a Woman p214)

I applaud ICAO and the RAeS for honouring Nancy-Bird Walton, one of Australia’s most iconic aviatrices.  Nancy-Bird is a role model for any pilot.    The “Nancy-Bird Walton” named lecture” is the second of just two named RAeS lectures at Montreal.  The “Assad Kotaite Lecture” is the other, named after the Council President of ICAO (1976-2006).

Sydney Nancy-Bird Walton International Airport

Australia could follow the RAeS and ICAO’s lead and honour Nancy-Bird Walton.

OQA (Nancy Bird-Walton) taking off at Sydney Airport (2012) (Courtesy Richard de Crespigny)

(Photo Bernard C Cornell CD)

Nancy-Bird Walton I have proposed that the new Western Sydney Airport be named “Sydney Nancy-Bird Walton International Airport” (to honour a great Australian aviatrix) that would sit beside “Sydney Kingsford Smith International Airport” (that honours a great Australian aviator).

The Honourable Warren Truss MP, Deputy Prime Minister of Australia and the the Minister for Infrastructure and Regional Development has acknowledged my proposal.

The Honourable Malcolm Turnbull MP, Prime Minister of Australia is aware of my proposal.

Why am I doing this?

“No matter how foolish, it is not the things in life that you do, but the things that you don’t do, that you regret”  (My God it’s a Woman p174)

Side by Side: Two "bird in a gilded cage" (by Coplu,



  1. Hello Richard.
    I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for introducing me to RAeS through your blog, since this is where I first read about it a couple of years ago.

    RAeS is truly an amazing organisation. I attended the members’ reception following the AGM last Thursday (I am quite sure I was the only student member present) and got to meet many people from different areas of aerospace. Great experience. I look forward to attending the evening lectures while I am here in London for the summer (but I don’t expect anything quite as good as yours).

    I would certainly join you in encouraging everyone to join RAeS.

    I’ve also been trying to catch a glimpse of QF A380s on approach to Heathrow in the early mornings (on those rare days when its not too cloudy), but so far unsuccessfully. I don’t have any chance of being on an A380 any time soon, so I’ll at least look at them. I would have no way of knowing, but maybe I’ll even see “Nancy-Bird Walton” flying overhead one morning. Or maybe one of your flights.

    Please pass on my best regards to Coral.
    Take care,

    1. Thanks Valeriya,

      The RAeS is a remarkable organisation that this year celebrates its 150th Anniversary. A special function is planned in Australia to celebrate the event.

      Coral and I send out best wishes for fun times and safe travels.

      1. Thank you.

        I’ve been certainly having fun times with aviation on the weekends.

        If a not-very-reputable-source (a flight tracking website) is correct, the first Qantas aircraft I have ever seen is “Nancy-Bird Walton”!

        It was taxiing parallel (in the opposite direction) to runway 27L at Heathrow just as the flight I was on was landing on it last Sunday, May 22. The picture I took is obviously very unclear (it was right after touchdown at 137 knots after all), but the website says the registration number is VH-OQA. While this website shows incorrect landing speed for the flight I was on (130 instead of 137), hopefully it has the registration numbers right.

        Seeing this aircraft was an exciting end to an exciting aviation-filled weekend. I hope to be on board Nancy-Bird some day.

  2. Thank you so much, Richard and Coral, for a wonderful evening yesterday!

    It was an unforgettable day. You really made my month. Before the event I expected it to be great, but I didn’t think it would be THAT fantastic.

    It was so nice of you to talk to everyone both before and after the lecture.

    Next I am excited to experience a B747-something (the description doesn’t say exactly) simulator here at the University of Toronto Institute for Aerospace Studies this or next Friday. It’s an event we have at the U of T Aviation Club. Normally this simulator is only used for research purposes.

    Thank you again and congratulations on your new award!


    1. Dear Valeriya,

      Thank you for going to the enormous effort to travel the great distance from Toronto to Montreal just for my presentation. You impressed Coral and me on first sight. I hope you enjoyed the evening and mixing with the best there is in aviation governance.

      Our best wishes for the future. Maintain the passion and please keep us informed.

      Best Wishes

      Rich and Corol.

  3. […] Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO).  I have been asked to deliver the inaugural “Nancy-Bird Walton Lecture” as part of the Australia Day celebrations.  I am very proud to present to the absolute […]

  4. Tony Hughes · · Reply

    Congratulations on this Richard!

    Tony J. Hughes
    Keynote Speaker, Author, B2B Social Selling Commentator, #1 Sales Influencer
    Interview, Follow my blog

  5. Brian Condon · · Reply

    Hi Richard,

    I must congratulate you for your contribution to aviation. You have done a wonderful job in promoting our cause.

    I was prompted to reply to this last post, as I fully agree with you proposal for remembering Nancy-Bird. My wife Joyce (who has passed on and was a member of the AWPA) and I were guests of Nancy-Bird at a Women Pilots’ fly-in to Sydney some years ago, and we stayed at her home. A wonderful woman.

    I am now 89 and had my first flight 84 years ago with the late Sir Charles Kingsford Smith in the Southern Cross. He was and you join him as one of the greatest pilots of all time.

    I still own and fly a C182Q, I gained my licence 46 years ago.

    I enjoy very much your articles, keep up the good work.

    Kindest regards

    Brian Condon OAM JP
    415 The Terrace
    Port Pirie SA 5540

    1. Dear Brian,

      Thank you very much for your kind thoughts. Aviation is an honourable profession today because of the efforts of aviators like you who followed their passion, enthused others and stayed safe.

      You should meet my father as you have similar interests. Dad is 89 and has his own Piper Turbo Arrow that he flies as often as possible. You can read more about him here. I’ll try to get Dad to Oshkosh later this year. Why don’t you come along as well!

      Aviation and technology are my passions so it is my pleasure to publish about the things that I love. Wait for my next book that should be out later this year. It is a phenomenal challenge taking up all my free time, but great fun!

      Keep safe and well! Rich

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