Freda Thompson

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Freda Thompson in the cockpit of a de Havilland DH.60G-III Moth Major

Freda Thompson OBE (5 April 1909 – 11 December 1980) was a pioneer aviator, the first Australian woman to fly solo from the United Kingdom to Australia.

Biography[edit]

Born at South Yarra, Melbourne Victoria to parents Frederick and Martha Thompson, Thompson was educated at Toorak College in Melbourne leaving with Honours, Proficiency Certificates Pianoforte and Ice Skating. On 28 May 1930 she did her first flight as a pilot and later in that year obtained her A Licence. In 1932 Thompson obtained her Commercial Pilots licence and won the Adelaide Aerial Derby for Victoria. In 1933 she was the first woman in the British Empire to obtain an Instructors Licence.

In April 1934 Thompson sailed for England to pick up her brand new De Havilland Moth Major which had been fitted with long range fuel tanks for the journey to Australia. Thompson had accumulated over 250 hours of flying experience by this time. On 28 September 1934 Freda left Lympne, Kent for the long journey to Australia flying solo. The trip took 39 days with the actual flying time being 19 days. Thompson damaged her aeroplane G-ACUC (VH-UUC) when she made a precautionary landing at Megara, Greece, the flight to Australia was delayed by 20 days waiting for a spare part for a damaged wing. Freda arrived in Darwin on the 6th November.

In 1937 Thompson was awarded King George VI's coronation medal and in 1953 she was awarded Queen Elizabeth II's coronation medal. In 1937 Freda was appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE).

Thompson died at Malvern and was cremated. In 1994 she was honoured by the issue of a postage stamp by Australia Post, one of a series depicting Australian aviators also including Stanley Goble and Ivor McIntyre, Lawrence Hargrave, Sir Keith and Sir Ross Macpherson Smith.

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