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Deborah Lawrie recognised in Queen’s Birthday Honours list

written by australianaviation.com.au | June 12, 2019

A file image of pilot Deborah Lawrie. (Tigerair Australia)
A file image of pilot Deborah Lawrie. (Tigerair Australia)

Deborah Lawrie, the first women to become a pilot with a major Australian airline, has been recognised in the Queen’s Birthday 2019 Honours List along with other notable aviation pioneers.

The official citation said Lawrie was awarded a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) “for significant service to aviation as a commercial pilot, and to women in the profession”.

Known by her married name of Wardley at the time she launched her ground-breaking case with the Victorian Equal Opportunity Board in 1978, Lawrie made her first flight, from Alice Springs to Darwin, in 1980.

After resigning along with other pilots in the 1989 dispute that sent shock waves through the industry, she went on to work as a pilot for KLM and TigerAir Australia.

“The reason I wanted to get into flying was that I really enjoyed and I thought, well I would like to make a career out of it,” Lawrie said in a video posted on the Tigerair Australia Facebook page.


VIDEO: A congratulatory video from the Tigerair Australia Facebook page on Deborah Lawrie’s Queen’s Birthday Honours award.

Steve Padgett was also recognised for service to the aviation industry. He built on a Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) flying scholarship as a teenager to become co-founder and chairman of Alliance Aviation Services and founder and managing director of pilot training firm Flight Options Australia. Padgett was awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM).

The veteran aviation executive also founded Aeromil Pacific, where he was managing director from 1980 until 2015, when he sold the company to Hawker Pacific.

At Hawker Pacific, Padgett was deputy chairman between 2015 and 2018.

“I am honoured to receive the Award and delighted to receive this on behalf of my family and the wonderful people I work with every day,” Padgett said in a statement from Flight Options.

A file image of Steve Padgett. (Flight Options)

Another admitted as Member of the Order of Australia (AM) was Peter Raven, for “significant service to aviation safety”.

Raven, who flew for Qantas from 1966 to 2013, has been chairman of Safeskies Australia since 2017.

Elsewhere in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list published on Monday, there was a Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) for service to the aviation industry for John Corby, the designer of the home-built single-seat Corby Starlet.

Although it was originally designed in 1960, plans for the Starlet, as well as kit parts, are still available. Corby joined Qantas as an apprentice ground engineer in 1949 and stayed with the airline for 22 years.

A file image of a Corby Starlet. (Australian Aviation)
A file image of a Corby Starlet. (Australian Aviation)

Jeremy Trevor-Jones, a pioneer of aviation in the Bathurst region, was also recognised with an Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM). Trevor-Jones has been an executive board member of the Bathurst Aero Club since 1960.

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Comments (3)

  • Grant Keetley


    What about Captain Christine Davies,,
    F27 Captain with Conair based in Alice springs,
    First in Australia.

  • trevor Buckland


    Well done Deborah.

  • I remember Debbie when she was a young F 27 first officer with ANSETT, when I worked in crewing at Tullamarine.
    She certainly did endure a lot of prejudice, but she was strong, and more importantly, a very good pilot and I flew with her once on the F 27. Good to see she is still enjoying her aviating.

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