Lorna deBlicquy

Designed by Suzanne Wiltshire, the stamp shows Lorna Bray’s childhood interest in airplanes, and her later acting upon that early interest as a teenager.  The stamp was introduced on October 19, 2011, the 65th anniversary of the date Lorna first experienced the exhilaration of flying.  At age 14 Lorna was strongly committed to learning to fly.  With her parachute jump with the Ottawa Parachute Club in 1947, the fifteen year old became the youngest Canadian to skydive.

When Lorna earned her Private Pilot License on September 14, 1948 at age 16, there were few career opportunities for female pilots.  Completing her Commercial License in 1952 and a BA in 1953, her first career was high school teaching.  A flight instructor in her spare time, she confirmed her passion for flying and soon moved to aviation as her full-time career.

Lorna summarized her career in Canadian Ninety-Nines: Here and Now, 2006, as follows:

“I also earned a Commercial Helicopter License which I never used, and a Private Glider License which I used with joy.  Endorsements included Seaplane, Class 1 Instructor, Towing, Multi-Engine, Instrument, and Designated Flight Test Examiner.  Favourite aircraft included the Canadian Fleet Canuck, twin Otter, Beaver with its big tires, and working types like the DC3 and Waco Standard.

Flying has taken me to many parts of the globe – to northern Ontario and Manitoba, including Thompson, before Thompson existed, and the high Arctic islands north of Resolute Bay.  I instructed in New Zealand, flew famine relief in Ethiopia during the summer of 1986, and flew in Saudi Arabia semi-disguised.  In 1977 I was hired as a Department of Transport inspector, an achievement of which I am proud.

I have had the best flying life possible for one who never wanted to do anything else – as a Canadian who was healthy, reasonably well educated, and had the ability and breaks necessary to pay my own way by working after school to pay for an early start, with the guarded support of both bewildered parents.  I am lucky, thankful and pleased to have spent most of my life doing what I loved.  I would not change anything – except it might have been nice to be born thirty years later.”

Lorna had a strong sense of fairness.  She never wanted to be given a position simply because she was a woman.  But neither did she want to be denied a position because she was a woman.  She strongly believed that everyone should be treated fairly based on their abilities, knowledge and experience, herself included.  At times she was outspoken in her efforts to achieve that fairness for herself and others.

In 1995 Lorna was awarded an Order of Canada with the citation, “An aviatrix for more than fifty years, she has flown to every corner of Canada, and many other parts of the world. She helped open doors for other women in the field, becoming the first woman Civil Aviation Inspector, the first woman commercial pilot in the far North and the first Canadian to be inducted into the International Women in Aviation Pioneers Hall of Fame.”  She will be inducted into Canada’s Aviation Hall of Fame in May, 2014.

Through her career Lorna has not only advanced aviation in Canada but she has brought credit to Canada within the international community.  She was a dedicated and talented pilot who has inspired many of us, young and not so young, to follow our dreams to pursue careers in aviation or achieve excellence even when flying recreationally.  Though Lorna died March 21, 2009, she continues to be a role model for many pilots, both women and men, particularly those fortunate enough to have known her.

By Lorna deBlicquy and Marilyn Dickson

You can order Lorna’s and other women who played a role in our Canadian aviation history… stamp page link here

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