RFS air tanker named after Nancy Bird Walton

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian at the launch of the NSW Rural Fire Service's VLAT Nancy Bird.
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian at the launch of the NSW Rural Fire Service's VLAT Nancy Bird.

A water-bombing DC-10 Very Large Air Tanker (VLAT) has been named “Nancy Bird” in honour of renowned Australian aviatrix Nancy Bird Walton AO OBE.

“Nancy grew up in Mount George and went to her first air show in Wingham, where she took a flight in a Gypsy Moth and came home walking on air. She went on to attend flight school in Mascot after meeting Charles Kingsford-Smith,” member for Myall Lakes, Stephen Bromhead said.

Nancy Bird Walton was the first woman in Australia to obtain a commercial pilot’s licence and was the founder of an outback air ambulance service. Like the NSW RFS volunteers, she provided invaluable emergency response across regional NSW.

Mr Bromhead said it was fitting that the VLAT Nancy Bird be tasked with protecting lives and property across NSW and the Manning.

“Our volunteers face unpredictable conditions every time they respond to a fire,” Mr Bromhead said.

“We are indebted to the 74,000 NSW Rural Fire Service volunteers who protect this State from the devastation of bushfires.”

Minister for Emergency Services Troy Grant said the start of the bush fire season had been demanding with more than 6200 NSW RFS volunteers responding to 2500 fires in September alone. 

“We have seen firsthand the benefit of having the Large Air Tanker “Thor” available to help attack and contain those fires,” Mr Grant said.

“Our volunteers face walls of fire and step into hellish conditions to keep us safe. They need all the help they can get.

“We want them to be reassured knowing Nancy Bird, Thor, and a 100 other aerial appliances are ready to respond in the event of a serious emergency.”

The NSW Government allocated $38 million in the 2017-18 budget to secure the use of the LAT and VLAT in the summer bushfire period over the next four years.