Because March is Women's History Month I wanted to share with my readers the story of strong and courageous women in my life. You will be able to follow along as you wish by choosing the label "Women of Courage" in the right side bar. I encourage my readers to join me in honoring women of courage in your own families.
I want to tell you about my third cousin twice removed, Eileen Vollick (1908-1968) who became the first Canadian woman to obtain a pilot's licence in March 1928. Eileen was related to me in two ways, and was also my 7th cousin twice removed.
"Canada’s first licenced woman pilot was born in Wiarton, Ontario. By the age of 19, she was a textile analyst at the Hamilton Cotton Company and had also won a local beauty contest. She was a spirited girl who had parachuted into Burlington Bay before taking flying lessons. It was 1927. Charles Lindbergh had just flown the Atlantic and Amelia Earhart was beginning to capture the public’s imagination. The diminutive Beach Boulevard resident had already set her sights much higher than anyone could have imagined!A historical plaque in honour of Eileen Vollick, our first licenced woman pilot was unveiled by three members of Eileen’s family, including her husband Mr. James Hopkin. The plaque can be seen at the entrance to the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum at Hamilton Airport.
She enrolled in the Flying School owned by Jack V. Elliot at Ghents Crossing on Burlington Bay. The only reservation that her instructor, Len Trip had, was that she was only 5' 1"s and had to use pillows to see out of the cockpit of the ski-equipped Curtiss JN-4 Bi-plane (affectionately known as a "Jenny")
The Comptroller of Civil Aviation issued Eileen a private pilot’s licence #77 on March 13, 1928, the first woman in Canada to qualify as a pilot.
After passing her flight test, she flew in the U.S. and Canada, often demonstrating aerobatic flying which she enjoyed immensely. Shortly afterwards she became Mrs James Hopkin, moved to New York State and raised a family, where she lived until her death in 1968."
The First Canadian Chapter had previously (posthumously) awarded Eileen with an Amelia Earhart Medallion in 1975 at the occasion of their 25th Anniversary and East Canada Section Fall Meeting.
Eileen is also featured in the 99s East Canada Collection Display at the Toronto Aerospace Museum in Downsview.
In 2005, a several of us who are related to Eileen campaigned to have her admitted to Canada's Aviation Hall of Fame. We were joined in our efforts by thte Canadian 99s and Wiarton Musuem. Although we presented all our research with supporting documentation our nomination of Eileen was denied as:
"The names for the 2006 inductees have been published on our website (www.cahf.ca) under the "What's New!" heading. My apologises [sic] for not being successful this year with Eileen Vollick's nomination, but it will be reconsidered for next year."
Ten years later, Eileen's name is still not found. Why is this amazing Canadian female being ignored by Canada's Aviation Hall of Fame?