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Flying Moments in the Life of Canada’s Youngest Woman Pilot

Prince Edward Collegiate Institute

Editor's note: This article was published in "Garnet and White", the year Book of the Prince Edward Collegiate Institute, Picton, Ontario, for the year 1956. The airplane is probably a Cessna 170, rather than the brand new Cessna 172 which only made its debut the year that this article was published.


Helen Bradley

Helen Bradley, sixteen year old pilot.

As you all know, Canada's youngest woman pilot is a member of our high school. Her name is Helen Bradley, a Grade XIIA student. When I was talking to her some time ago, she told me about some of her flying moments and some of her experiences.

Helen’s father is the instructor at the Flying Club here in Picton. She has been flying with her father since she was six and helped him fly the plane a few years later. She found that she had to be sixteen before she could get a permit to fly and had to pass an examination.

At sixteen she got her permit and took her first solo flight. She told me that it gave her a different feeling – a feeling of complete control and responsibility – the feeling of being free. Pilots are only allowed one circuit this first time – a take off, a short circuit and a landing. Helen had the required twelve hours with her instructor and the complete thirty hours of flying before she got her license.

She won the trophy for the highest marks in a flight test and three exams – air regulations, airmanship and meteorology, and navigation. Her per cent was 93.6, the highest average in the Picton Flying Club.

Before she got her license, there were a few hours of flying to learn what all the instruments were for. She learned to fly straight and level by feel and not instruments. She was taught how to make turns, take-offs and landings. Before Helen learned to make forced landings, she took a solo flight. Next came the round trip - the dual cross-country. This trip is made by navigation and you learn to use the winds to your advantage.

Helen left Picton and landed at Oshawa. From here she flew to Kingston, landed, and then returned to Picton. This took her about three hours for the round trip. Having done all this successfully, she was ready to get her license. On her birthday, October 28th, 1955 -- Helen was presented with her license by the air regulations supervisor in Toronto.

Although she doesn't plan to make flying a plane her life's career, she is going to be an airline stewardess. She plans to keep up her license and someday own her own plane.

She keeps a scrapbook of pictures of herself from various newspapers across Canada. She has been on television twice. Once she was asked to be on Tabloid in Toronto and was interviewed by Gil Christy, as a mystery guest. Helen gets fan mail from across Canada and she takes time to answer them all.

These letters are from ministers, invalids, members of the armed forces and other individuals.

I think that we're Iucky to be able to say that Canada's youngest woman pilot is a member of OUR high school.

by Mary-Ann Caswell, XIB



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