Christine Davy MBE; Fixed Wing and Helicopter Pilot

National Mapping: Northern Territory 19 May 1965

Christine Davy circa 1974.

(Image from Flight Safety Australia website.)

 

Christine Davy, as far as we can ascertain, made only one flight for National Mapping.  However, that flight and the lady herself are sufficient reason to include her profile in this series.

Between 24 May and 11 June 1965, National Mapping’s supervising surveyor (Geodetic), Howard Angas (Bill) Johnson made an on-the-ground vehicle reconnaissance across the generally flat and scrub covered Tanami Desert.  His vehicle route was from Helen Springs homestead (on the Stuart Highway about 140 kilometres north of Tennant Creek) to Mount Farquharson north-west of Hooker Creek (now Lajamanu).

The reconnaissance was to help select sites for survey stations on the proposed Helen-Ord second order mapping control survey traverse which was eventually observed by a field survey party under Nat Map’s Reg Ford (1914-1994) during May-July 1966.  Each survey station had to have line of sight to the next station to allow the theodolite and Tellurometer observations necessary to carry the traverse.  Shortly before setting out alone on his 1965 vehicle journey, Bill Johnson arranged to undertake a very low level reconnaissance flight over the proposed vehicle and survey traverse route in a chartered aircraft to help in selecting the most suitable route to take.

Extremely low flying for a survey traverse route reconnaissance

On 18 May 1965, Bill Johnson approached Connellan Airways in Alice Springs to confirm the charter of a suitable aircraft and pilot for the Helen-Ord reconnaissance flight.  At age 72 years, Bill Johnson recorded his recollections of the flight and the pilot some 15 years later in a (6 January 1980) letter to Dr David Nash of the Australian National University, Canberra as follows:

...So far, however, it has been a traditional all male cast and a change of gender seems overdue, not just for a variety act but to record a spectacular performance by a girl, of which I was the sole, privileged, still impressed audience.

Understandably, pilots dislike low-flying - there is little or no margin for pilot error or inattention, or machine failure - and some pilots have shown such reluctance to come down that much of the value of this expensive exercise is nullified in inhibited attempts.  So in calling at Connellan’s office to confirm the reconnaissance charter, it was also to clarify that it was longer and lower than usually sought.

The briefing pilot said he understood, the Beechcraft Travel Air (VH-CLK) was to be used, being a required twin for the area, and Captain Christine Davy would be the pilot.  Seeing my expected look of surprise (after all a female commercial pilot in 1965 was a rara avis, though in anti-discriminatory, enlightened 1979, she can readily transmute into a stormy petrel) the briefing pilot added I would find Captain Davy would fly as required.

Before sun-up next morning (19 May 1965), at first take-off light from its town strip, this graceful machine came sweeping over the range to the main ‘7 mile’ from which all passengers had to depart.  Tanks were topped at Tennant Creek, Mt Willieray and Yabbagalonga closely examined, then it was down and bee-lining along the direct bearing to Hooker Creek.

With the wheels surely brushing and reaping the spinifex in seed, or clipping the top leaves of the higher scrub, “Is this low enough for you?” I was asked.  Which is how we skimmed all 200 miles towards Hooker Creek to clear the last low undulation and see, lying directly along the nose, two miles or so dead ahead, the settlement houses.  At literally zero ground clearance it was consummate flying and navigation.

Map of Christine Davy’s 1965 Tanami Desert reconnaissance flight route.

(Prepared by Paul Wise, 2013.)

 

After briefly landing at Hooker Creek, it was on, (with the survey aspect immediately improving with the scattering of low hills) to Birrindudu, thence returning Easterly near the 18° parallel, which was a less attractive survey route.  The low reconnaissance finished at the bitumen, and it was South to Tennant, then back to Alice with the ground loitering past a mile below, to receive the Sun’s last wink as we crossed the MacDonnell's and to my fourth thistle-down landing.

For the passenger it was, and remains, an enviable trip over always beautiful country, and it included an enlightening flight over a possibly troublesome survey connection; for him, it was to sit comfortably, able to look and note either side, yet never long before drawn back to the fascination and exhilaration of the bushes and higher scrub rushing to greet and clasp us, waving in excited farewell as they flashed beneath at 80 yards a second, in those primitive, pre-metric days - and to appreciate the skill with which this sensitive, potentially lethal machine was seemingly so effortlessly handled, and the whole flight performed.

The Beechcraft Travel Air that Christine Davy flew on 19 May 1965 as VH-CLK, seen here at Alice Springs in 1968 after being sold to the Royal Flying Doctor Service in August 1965 and re-registered as VH-FDX.

(Geoff Goodall image from the Ed Coates collection.)

 

For the pilot it was a very long day, which entailed over 600 miles of scrub brushing and navigation, with its attendant unremitting, intense concentration, alertness and nicety of judgements.  Yet throughout the journey it was a smiling always charming and delightful companion, at ease at the controls, who obviously enjoyed the novelty and challenging expertise demanded by the mission - and who was in sharp contrast with some pilots, whose unfolding churlishness and indifferent performance were in keeping, and could make the end of the flight, with its enforced proximity, quite the best part of a longest day, however short.

Could some of those early travellers, who journeyed the Tanami Desert the unmapped, unknowing, tough way, have seen her crossing, about the eye-level of the horsemen and below that of the camel riders, they would surely have given their spell-bound acclaim - not least from (the early Tanami explorers) Anderson, Hitchcock and Whitlock.

Captain Davy was also a flying instructor and in 1970 carried out a course for three pastoralists in the Finke Corner of the NT, on one of their leases, before each bought his own plane at the conclusion of the course.  All were spontaneous in the enthusiastic, unqualified respect for the professional skill, instructive ability, and charm of this slim, attractive, clear-eyed young lady, who has contributed much to commercialisation throughout the Territory, and to the pleasure of those privileged to have been piloted by her...

A few words about Howard Angas Johnson (1907-1990)

For Natmappers who knew him, Mr Johnson - Bill was for friends only - was a firm but fair leader.  He was a tough old bushman who was very sparse in build and personal habits; certainly not a man to waste time with alcohol, tobacco, profanity or other indulgences.  He served in the Royal Australian Survey Corps in World War II where he was awarded a Member of the Order of the British Empire (Military)-MBE.  He once reflected that, upon his posting there in 1942, he did not expect to return from war–time New Guinea.  (The then Captain Johnson had already served in the Middle East from March 1941 to February 1942.)

Howard Angas Johnson MBE circa 1965

(An XNatmap image.)

 

After the War, Lieutenant-Colonel Johnson became Commanding Officer and Chief Instructor of the School of Military Survey (then at Balcombe Victoria) prior to joining National Mapping to lead the national geodetic survey in 1954.  Natmappers also knew that Mr Johnson was a wise leader who spontaneously acknowledged a job well done but nevertheless he was not a man who gave praise lightly.

Christine Davy’s early life

Christine Davy was born at Dilbhur Hall Private Hospital, Woollahra (Sydney) on 7 August 1934.  She was the second child of Dr Ashleigh Osborne Davy MB, ChM, DLO (London), FRACS (1897-1977), an eminent ear, nose and throat surgeon, and his wife Elizabeth Deuchar Davy née Gordon (circa 1910‑2006).

Christine’s father Ashleigh Davy was born at Lane Cove on 9 March 1897 to William Davy (circa 1849-1929) and his wife Florence Jane Davy (circa 1855‑1925).  After early schooling at Barkers College Hornsby, Ashleigh attended St Paul’s College at Camperdown prior to commencing a bachelor of medicine degree course at Sydney University in 1915.  On his 19th birthday, Ashleigh enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force with the permission of both his parents who then resided at Wyndarra on Northwood Road in the inner northern Sydney suburb of Northwood.

Ashleigh Davy joined the 9th Field Company, Engineers, Australian Imperial Force as a sapper (service number 9858) on 20 March 1916.  On 5 July 1916, he embarked at Sydney onboard His Majesty’s Australian Transport A31 Ajana for war service overseas.  However, during the sea voyage Ashleigh (and at least one other soldier) became seriously ill with cerebro spinal meningitis (infection of the meninges, the thin covering of the brain and spinal cord).  On 1 August 1916 Sapper Davy was hospitalised in South Africa.  Owing to the seriousness of his medical condition, on 9 September 1916 Ashleigh was evacuated from Durban to Melbourne on HMAT A72 Beltana and later transferred to Sydney on HMAT A61 Kanowna.  As a consequence of his medical condition Sapper Ashleigh Davy was discharged from the Australian Imperial Force on 23 November 1916.

After his health had sufficiently improved Ashleigh Davy returned to his medicine course at Sydney University.  He graduated with a Bachelor of Medicine degree in 1922 and with a Master of Surgery degree in 1922.  Later Dr Davy pursued post-graduate specialist qualifications overseas.  In 1926, he was awarded a Diploma of Laryngology and Otology (throat and ear) from the University of London.

Between 1924 and 1945, Dr Davy was the Medical Superintendent at Sydney's Royal Prince Alfred Hospital. Dr Davy was also an Honorary Surgeon at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital from 1927 to 1934.

Dr Davy served in the Australian Army again during World War II.  He was discharged on 14 September 1944 with the rank of Major (service number NX30) in the Australian Army Medical Corps.

Dr Davy died at Canberra on 30 May 1977 at age 80 years.  His remains were later buried at a private cemetery on the property Turalla on the Bungendore Road about 1.5 kilometres west of Bungendore.

Christine’s mother Beth Gordon was the younger daughter of Mr William Deuchar Gordon and his wife Charlotte née Campbell of Manar, Braidwood.  Beth and Ashleigh were married by Lewis Bostock Radford BA MA BD DD (1869-1937) the Bishop of Goulburn at Braidwood on Saturday 15 February 1930.  (Later, Canberra’s Radford College was named for the Bishop.)

The Gordon family had been graziers in the Bungendore area for several generations (Murphy, 2013; Davy, 2017).  At the time of William Gordon’s death in 1951 at age 80 years, his sons William and Deuchar run the Bungendore properties The Gib and Turalla respectively and his brother James ran Werriwa also at Bungendore (Anonymous, 1951).

On return from their honeymoon in March 1930, Christine’s parents resided at Meriden in Victoria Road Bellevue Hill about 5 kilometres east of the Sydney CBD.  On 4 November 1931, the Davys’ first child (son William) was born at 186 New South Head Road Edgecliff.  From later electoral roll information, Dr Davy and his family resided at 337 Edgecliff Road in the south eastern Sydney suburb of Woollahra from at least 1936 until the early 1960s.  It appears that around the latter-mentioned time Dr Davy (who would have been in his mid-60s) retired to the land at Bungendore.  Electoral roll entries between 1963 and 1977 listed Ashleigh Osborne Davy, grazier, and Elizabeth Deuchar Davy, home duties, as residing at Wyndarra, Bungendore.

Both of Christine’s parents, Ashleigh and Beth Davy were keen snow skiers.  A photo of Ashleigh, Beth and other Ski Club of Australia members at the top of Australia’s highest mountain, Mt Kosciuszko (7,310 feet), appeared in the press in June 1935 (Anonymous, 1935).  During 1929, Dr Davy was briefly joint record holder for reaching and returning from the summit of Mt Kosciuszko in 7 hours and 30 minutes (Anonymous, 1929).

In 1939, Beth Davy was reported as intending to take a skiing trip to Mt Kosciuszko with her young son Bill (Anonymous, 1939).  In 1947, Dr Davy broke an arm after falling from his skis at Mt Kosciuszko (Anonymous, 1947).

On 14 June 1945, Dr Ashleigh Davy operated on the then three and a half years old Prince William to remove his adenoids.  Prince William (who died in a light aircraft crash in 1972) was the son of Prince Henry who used the title Duke of Gloucester during his term as Governor General of Australia between January 1945 and March 1947.

The adenoids operation was performed at Gloucester House, Royal Prince Alfred Hospital in Sydney.  Afterwards Prince William’s condition was reported as satisfactory and he was making excellent progress (Anonymous, 1945).

At Admiralty House, Sydney on 8 January 1947, Dr Davy was awarded with a Member of the Royal Victorian Order (MVO) for his services to Prince Henry the Duke of Gloucester.

In 1949, Dr Davy became the owner of Questing a 10.66 metre wooden racing yacht built at Seaforth opposite The Spit in Middle Harbour by shipwrights Andy Riddell and Sons to a design by well-known naval architect Alan Payne.  Dr Davy intended to use the yacht for Harbour racing with the Sydney Amateur Sailing Club (Anonymous, undated A).

Christine Davy’s early schooling was interrupted by her precautionary evacuation from war-time Sydney to her grandparent’s property Manar at Braidwood.  After her return to Sydney, Christine attended the Ascham School in New South Head Road Edgecliff.  Between 1948 and 1951, Christine was educated at Frensham School, a boarding school for girls located at Mittagong in the Southern Highlands.  During Christine’s time at Frensham, the principal was Miss Phyllis Bryant.

Christine Davy’s early vocation considerations

From the age of 10 years, Christine spent about two weeks per year skiing in the snow country.  In 1953 at the age of 19 years, Christine held 5 skiing championship titles including the New Zealand women’s slalom.  In 1952, Christine skied in Switzerland and Austria.  Although she holds five titles for skiing, 19-year-old snow champion Christine Davy of Woollahra, has no intention of making skiing a career.  Instead she plans to continue her studies in accountancy and do as much skiing as possible in winter (Anonymous, 1953).  In the event, Christine opted for aviation over accountancy.  As well as being an accomplished skier, Christine was also a skilled equestrian who competed in dressage events.

In 1955, Christine Davy was awarded a Golden Eagle for covering the 100 metres timed section of the Eagle Run beside the then Mt Northcote ski tow (north east of Mt Kosciuszko) in the fastest time of 3.19 seconds; at an average speed of 112.85 kilometres per hour (70.12 mph) (Scott, 2013).

(The spelling of Australia’s highest mountain was changed from Kosciusko to Kosciuszko by the Geographical Names Board of New South Wales in 1997.)

Australia’s first alpine skiing Olympian

Christine commenced studying for her commercial pilot’s licence in 1956.  However, she had at least one other important task on the go that year.  Christine was the first female to represent Australia at the Olympics in alpine skiing.  She competed in the downhill, slalom and giant slalom events at the 1956 Winter Olympics that were held at Cortina d' Ampezzo in Northern Italy.

Four years later, Christine competed in the same three events at the next Winter Olympics that were held at Squaw Valley in California.  Despite her competitive skiing successes in Australia and New Zealand unfortunately in both Olympics Christine established that Australia was not then competitive in these skiing events as she finished towards the rear of the field in all the events she contested.

Christine Davy and Charles Anton at Thredbo in 1960.

(A Jeff Carter photograph from the National Library of Australia ID 42396516.)

 

Early flying career and awards for contributions to aviation

While Christine had begun flying as a hobby, her approach to flying would later change.  By the early 1960s, she was a flight instructor at the Goulburn Aero Club.  Here Christine secured some notable achievements.  In 1962, she trained the pilot of the year as selected by the Aircraft Owners’ and Pilots’ Association.

In early April 1963, Christine Davy received the trophy for winning The Australian Women Pilots' Association annual reliability trial that was held at Parafield aerodrome north of Adelaide.  At the same time, the Association awarded Christine the Nancy Bird trophy (for the most noteworthy contribution to aviation by a woman of Australasia) at an Association dinner held at the Adelaide Country Club in early April 1963.

Parachute drop aircraft pilot - an emergency hang-up situation

Brian Murphy was a National Mapping/AUSLIG senior surveyor from 1970 to 1998.  He first met Christine Davy in early 1959 in the aircraft hangars at Camden aerodrome, about 50 kilometres south west of Sydney CBD.  At the time Brian was involved with the genesis of sport parachuting (sky diving) in Australia.  The parachutists were then jumping onto the Camden aerodrome.

In 1960, the base for free-falling operations was shifted to Goulburn aerodrome as it did not have the height restrictions that were imposed on operations at Camden due to latter’s proximity to Sydney airport.  Brian recalled that at Goulburn, Christine Davy very frequently flew the drop aircraft, a Cessna 172 (VH-GAC) owned by the Goulburn Aero Club.  It was during one of these sorties that Christine had to deal with a hang-up when parachutist Gordon Cork became suspended below the aircraft by a malfunctioning static line.

With darkness approaching and a low fuel situation arising, and despite Christine desperately trying for at least 30 to 45 minutes to shake Gordon free by violently manoeuvring the aircraft, he was unable to be released.  Christine could not land with the parachutist suspended beneath the aircraft.  Eventually, Christine tried another manoeuvre, assisted by Gordon, which ultimately resulted in his release after which he made a normal descent to the ground.

Throughout the whole emergency, Christine Davy was extremely cool headed and the aircraft handling skills she displayed that afternoon ultimately saved the day and in all likelihood Gordon Cork's life (Murphy, 2013).

(From that day on, it became a mandatory requirement to carry a knife aboard any aircraft involved with static line descents so that if such an emergency occurred again the static line could be cut enabling the parachutist to fall free and to then deploy their reserve parachute.)

Airline Pilot Career

In 1963, Christine moved to Alice Springs where she was a part-time flying instructor with the newly formed Alice Springs Aero Club.  She also flew part-time for the Alice Springs based Connellan Airways.  Later Christine’s commercial aviation career took off when she secured a full-time position as a pilot with Connellans.

During some 18 years with Connellans (and successor companies), Christine filled every pilot position in the airline.  She rose to the position of chief pilot and flew every company aircraft.  As well as providing regular public transport route services and charter work, Connellan Airways also provided training for Qantas junior pilots.  During her time with Connellans Christine Davy trained over 15 Qantas pilots (Wright-Rogers, 2015).

Christine went on to become the first Australian woman to hold a 1st class air transport pilot's licence.

During her time with Connellan Airways, Christine was based at both Alice Springs and Darwin.  On a 1968 electoral roll Christine was listed as a pilot residing at Connellan’s Mess, Alice Springs.  On a 1972 electoral roll, Christine was listed at a pilot residing in the Darwin suburb of Nightcliff.  On a 1977 electoral roll Christine was listed as a pilot residing in Cavenagh Crescent on Alice Springs’ east side.  For much of her time at Connellans, Christine would time her annual leave to coincide with the snow season so she could maintain her skiing interest.

Connellan’s Mess was located off Larapinta Drive to the west of Alice Springs’ main business district.  The mess building still exists and in 2017 was occupied by Yaye’s Café that was adjacent to the Araluen Cultural Precinct and near the Central Australian Aviation Museum that houses many exhibits relating to Connellan Airways and its founder Edward John Connellan OBE CBE AO (1912-1983).  The Museum is located in the original Connellan Airways hangar.

The original Alice Springs town airstrip (also called the Araluen airstrip) was first used in 1921.  Eventually there were two runways that ran north-south along the present Memorial Avenue and east-west along the present Van Senden Avenue.  In 1968, the town airstrip was closed to allow for housing subdivision and all remaining aviation operations were moved to the existing 7 Mile airport that was first established during World War II.

VH-CCD in former RAAF livery at the De Havilland Anniversary Fly-In at Luskintyre in the Hunter Valley, New South Wales on 10 September 2010.

(Photo by Ian McDonnell on ADF-Serials website.)

 

Tiger Moth Owner

Christine Davy remained an aviation enthusiast even after she became a commercial airline pilot.  In 1961, while at Goulburn Aero Club, Christine purchased a De Havilland Australia DH 82A Tiger Moth bi-plane (VH-CCD).

From 1940 at Sydney’s Mascot aerodrome, De Havilland Aircraft Pty Ltd produced over 1,000 Australian-built Tiger Moths for the Royal Australian Air Force and for overseas customers.  Originally built in 1942 for South Africa, construction number DHA823 was instead delivered to the RAAF where it was given the RAAF serial number A17-673.

After RAAF service the aircraft was given the civil registration VH-RNP and on 14 October 1961 Christine re‑registered the aircraft as VH-CCD (Anonymous, undated B; Higgs et al, 2017).

When moving to Alice Springs in June 1963, Christine flew herself there in VH‑CCD from Goulburn; a flight of some 2,000 kilometres.  On that flight, after fuel stops at Boorowa and Hillston, Christine overnighted at Broken Hill.  The next day Christine made further refuelling stops at Leigh Creek in South Australia, Muloorina Station (near the south eastern edge of Lake Eyre), Oodnadatta, and at New Crown Station (about 30 kilometres south east of Finke) in the Northern Territory.

Afterwards Christine’s very neat DH 82A Tiger Moth was based at Alice Springs (7 Mile) airport where it was used for charter work through the Alice Springs Aero Club (Whitfield, 2002).  Eventually, around the mid-1970s, Christine sold the aircraft to her brother William who was a grazier at Bungendore.  VH-CCD was then ferried in a DC-3 to Melbourne and from there William Davy flew it to Bungendore.  (In November 2014, VH-CCD was re‑registered as VH-UVD.)

Fly-in flying instructor

As mentioned in Bill Johnson’s above letter, Christine was greatly respected by three pastoralists she instructed to obtain their pilot licences during 1970.  Christine’s three students were Rex Lowe who owned Mt Dare Station and Bob Smith and his nephew Ron Bulla Smith from New Crown Station.  Christine and her three student pilots would meet at Mt Dare Station every week or so until the students were ready to take the necessary examinations.  Some 47 years later, Christine recalled that the whole exercise had been a wonderful experience for her.

Mount Dare Station was a pastoral holding in the far north of South Australia about 300 kilometres south east of Alice Springs.  From the 1930s, Edwin Lowe took up various pastoral holdings in north east South Australia.  His holdings were amalgamated in 1948 to become the Dalhousie Pastoral Company that covered 7,770 square kilometres.  Mount Dare homestead was the company’s headquarters.  After Edwin and his wife moved to Adelaide, the day-to-day running of the company was left to their son Rex and his wife June.  They assumed overall control after Edwin Lowe died in 1962.

To prevent degradation of the Dalhousie Springs, the South Australian Government purchased Mount Dare from the Lowe family in 1984 for $750,000 and converted it to the Witjira National Park.  The Lowe family then moved to a property on the Barkly Tableland.

In 1989, the South Australian Government leased out some 400 square kilometres around the Mount Dare homestead.  This lease area is now called the Mt Dare Hotel and offers facilities and supplies for tourists and other travellers crossing the Simpson Desert.  (Later, a new hotel building was constructed near the old homestead that had fallen into disrepair.)

New Crown Station was a pastoral lease of some 3,580 square kilometres that ran from the then Finke railway siding south to the Northern Territory-South Australian border.  The New Crown homestead was about 250 kilometres south east of Alice Springs.  In 1970 the property was owned by Bob Smith.

Further recognition of contribution to Australian Aviation

In the New Year’s Day honours list in 1970, Christine Davy’s outstanding service to civil aviation was recognised with the award of Member of the Order of the British Empire (Civil)-MBE.  Subsequently, she was made a member of the National Pioneer Women’s Hall of Fame, Alice Springs.

Passenger airliner senior captain

In 1974, Christine Davy was the first woman to become a senior captain of a passenger airliner (Connellan’s DC-3).  Christine was also the first Western woman to become a check captain.  As mentioned, Christine flew various aircraft types for Connellan Airways, including the F27 Fokker Friendship twin engine turboprop (she was the first woman commercial pilot of an F27), the four-engine De Havilland DH 114 Heron, Beechcraft Travel Air, and DC-3s (such as VH‑UPQ) on the Ayers Rock (now Uluru) tourist run and elsewhere in the outback.

Christine has been recorded as saying she believed the DC-3 always had personality - because no one ever quite knew what it was going to do next!

During the 1970s, Christine's endorsement to fly the F27 Fokker Friendship twin engine turboprop passenger aircraft was undertaken by Captain Col King who was then a Check Captain with East West Airlines. (Col is a decorated former Royal Australian Air Force fighter pilot who had flown 160 missions during service in Korea in 1952.) Col recalled checking Christine on a regular public transport flight in an F27 from Sydney to Albury and return. Later he checked Christine at Tamworth during asymmetric and high-level flight routines in an F27. In 2017, Col remembered Christine Davy as an excellent airline pilot.

In 1970, Connellan Airways was renamed as Connair which was sold to East-West Airlines in March 1980.  It was then renamed Northern Airlines (Operations) Limited.  However, the company ceased trading and went into liquidation in 1981.

Connair DC-3

Captain Christine Davy checking the port engine on a Connair DC-3 at Lajamanu airstrip (Hooker Creek) on Friday 29 August 1975.

(Image taken by Ludo Kuipers; from ozoutback.com.au website)

 

Helicopter pilot

Christine Davy stayed with Connellan/Connair/Northern Airlines until the company’s demise.  After leaving Northern Airlines in 1981, Christine found there were then few suitable opportunities for a fixed wing pilot with her aviation experience.  Christine then decided to become a helicopter pilot and to this end she moved to Sydney to undertake helicopter pilot training at Bankstown airport.  Between 10 June and 28 July 1981 Christine undertook her initial helicopter pilot training with the Rex Flight Centre using a Hughes 269C piston-engine aircraft; her flight instructor was Leon Kippin (Davy, 2017).

After gaining a commercial helicopter pilot licence, Christine returned to Alice Springs where she flew with Roger Leach’s Central Australian Helicopters mainly using Bell JetRanger aircraft.

Later Christine moved to Adelaide to fly with Lloyd Helicopters that were based at Adelaide airport.  However, most of Christine’s flying with Lloyds was in twin engine helicopters in Western Australia servicing offshore oil rigs in the Timor Sea and on the North West Shelf.

Lloyd Helicopters’ Kimberley base was on Troughton Island in the Timor Sea off the Kimberley coast about 80 kilometres north west of Kalumburu and about 530 kilometres south west of Darwin.  Here Shore Airlines operated a private airport as a base for servicing oil rigs further offshore in the Timor Sea.  During her some five years here, Christine generally worked on a 2 weeks on and 2 weeks off rotation.  As did the oil rig crews, Christine would fly into Troughton Island on a charter aircraft from Darwin.  From the Troughton Island base, Christine would ferry crew members, supplies and equipment to various offshore oil rigs and ferry crew members back to the base at the end of their work periods.

The main types of aircraft Christine flew from Troughton Island were the Bell 412 twin engine medium lift helicopters that had a payload of about 5,000 pounds and the Bell 214ST twin engine medium lift helicopters that had a payload of about 8,000 pounds.

Later Christine was involved in similar offshore helicopter operations on the North West Shelf off Western Australia.  Here Christine flew from Lloyd Helicopters bases at Onslow (about 1,200 kilometres north of Perth) and at Karratha (a further 200 kilometres to the north east of Onslow.)

Christine Davy was to spend over 12 years as a senior commercial helicopter pilot with Lloyd Helicopters.  During that time she also flew helicopters on other operations including medical evacuations and on police work.

(Established at Adelaide airport in 1969, Lloyd Helicopters traded under that name until 2000 when the operation reverted to the name of the Canadian parent company CHC Helicopters.  CHC is said to be Australia’s largest commercial helicopter operator.  In 2011, CHC shifted the main base for its Australian operations from Adelaide to Perth.)

 

Captain Christine Davy ready for offshore work in a Lloyd Helicopters Bell 412.

(Christine Davy image.)

 

Captain Christine Davy at Adelaide with a Lloyd Helicopters Bell 412 circa 1985.

(Neva Cavenagh image.)

 

 

Christine Davy-after aviation

In the mid-1990s, Christine moved to Bungendore.  Here she cared for her mother Elizabeth until her mother’s death at age 96 years on 24 February 2006.  Elizabeth Davy’s remains were later buried at the Turalla cemetery west of Bungendore.

In 1996, Christine established Wyndarra Alpacas on the family cattle property on the Kings Highway about 6 kilometres east Bungendore, which is about 30 kilometres east of the national capital Canberra.  At Wyndarra Alpacas Christine is a stud breeder of these animals.  She is a member of the Southern New South Wales Region of the Australian Alpaca Association and is an active member of the alpaca industry.

 

Prepared by Laurie McLean in 2013 and updated in July-October 2017.


References

Anonymous (undated), Women Who Have Signed the Quilt and Their Firsts, page on the National Pioneer Women’s Hall of Fame, Alice Springs website, accessed at: http://www.pioneerwomen.com.au/content/view/9/10/#d

Anonymous (undated A), Questing entry on the Australian Register of Historic Vessels on the Australian National Maritime Museum website, accessed at: http://arhv.anmm.gov.au/en/search/results/Dr%2520Ashleigh%2520Davy

Anonymous (undated B), Production-Australia section of De Hallivand Aircraft Production website; accessed at: http://www.airhistory.org.uk/dh/pAus8.html

Anonymous (1929), Snow Climb Record at Kosciusko, an article in The Sun, (Sydney), Tuesday 7 August 1929, page 2; accessed from the National Library of Australia, Canberra, Trove search service at: http://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/222170757

Anonymous (1930), Davy-Gordon, an article in Weddings in the For Women section of The Sydney Morning Herald, Monday 17 February 1930, page 4; accessed from the National Library of Australia, Canberra, Trove search service at: http://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/16626427

Anonymous (1935), On the snowy top of Kosciusko, a picture in The Sun, (Sydney), Sunday 21 July 1935, page 30; accessed from the National Library of Australia, Canberra, Trove search service at: http://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/231285293

Anonymous (1939), Holidays, an article in The Sydney Morning Herald, Wednesday 30 August 1939, page 7; accessed from the National Library of Australia, Canberra, Trove search service at: http://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/17598770

Anonymous (1945), Prince William has Adenoids Removed, an article in The Courier-Mail, (Brisbane), Friday 15 June 1945, page 3; accessed from the National Library of Australia, Canberra, Trove search service at: http://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/48962039

Anonymous (1947), Rescue of Doctor at Kosciusko, an article in the Barrier Miner, (Broken Hill), Wednesday 2 July 1947, page 1; accessed from the National Library of Australia, Canberra, Trove search service at: http://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/49565296

Anonymous (1951), WD Gordon Obituary, in the Goulburn Evening Post, Thursday 13 September 1951, page 3, accessed from the National Library of Australia, Canberra, Trove search service at: http://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/100168277

Anonymous (1953), Sydney teenager is new ski champion, an article in The Sun, (Sydney), Tuesday 29 September 1953, page 32, accessed from the National Library of Australia, Canberra, Trove search service at: http://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/230750811

Anonymous (1963), Woman Pilot Trial Won by Goulburn, in The Age newspaper, Melbourne, 8 April 1963, accessed at; http://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=1300&dat=19630408&id=A4cTAAAAIBAJ&sjid=YpUDAAAAIBAJ&pg=2265,1133588

Anonymous (2017), Ashleigh Osborne Davy entry in the Book of Remembrance on the Beyond 1914 - The University of Sydney and the Great War database; accessed from The Sydney University website at: http://beyond1914.sydney.edu.au/profile/2765/ashleigh-osbourne-davy

Australian Electoral Commission (various dates), Searches of entries for Christine Davy, Ashleigh Osborne Davy and Elizabeth Deuchar Davy on various electoral rolls; accessed from the Ancestry website at: https://www.ancestry.com.au/

Australian Government (2013), Christine Davy entry on the It’s an Honour data base, accessed at: http://www.itsanhonour.gov.au/honours/honour_roll/search.cfm?aus_award_id=1085390&search_type=simple&showInd=true

Cable, Kenneth John (1988), Radford, Lewis Bostock (1869–1937), an entry in the Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, Canberra, accessed at: http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/radford-lewis-bostock-8147

Cavenagh, Neva (2017), Personal communications.

Davy, Christine (2017), Personal communications.

Department of Veterans’ Affairs (undated), Search of World War II Nominal Roll for Ashleigh Osborne Davy on Department of Veterans’ Affairs website at:

http://www.ww2roll.gov.au/Veteran.aspx?ServiceId=A&VeteranId=119948

Forth, Felicity (2016), Meet Bulla the Bush Mechanic, an article in The Gympie Times, 1 July 2016.

Higgs, Grahame; Cowan, Brendan; and Edwards, Martin (2017), RAAF A17 De Havilland DH 82 Tiger Moth A17-601 to A17-965, on ADF-Serials, Australian and New Zealand Military Aircraft Serials and History website, accessed at: http://www.adf-serials.com.au/2a17c.htm

Johnson, Howard Angas (1980), Recollections of the 1965 Aerial Reconnaissance of the Tanami Desert for the Helen Springs-Ord River section of the Geodetic Survey as told to Dr David Nash in a letter dated 6 January 1980.  More details of this reconnaissance may be accessed on the XNatmap website at: http://www.xnatmap.org/adnm/docs/recolls/HAJ80.htm

King, Colin George (2017), Personal communications.

Murphy, Brian Anthony John (2013, 2017), Personal communications.

National Archives of Australia (undated), Davy, Ashleigh Osborne Service Number 9858, World War I Service Record, series no B2455, Control symbol Davy A O, Item barcode 3491890; accessed from a basic search of First Australian Imperial Forces personnel dossiers (World War I service records), date range 1914–20, Series number B2455, on the National Archives of Australia website at: http://www.naa.gov.au/collection/explore/defence/service-records/army-wwi.aspx

Northern Territory Government (2013), Christine Davy entry on the Department of Arts and Museums’ Territory Stories website, accessed at: http://www.territorystories.nt.gov.au/handle/10070/217956

Scott, David (2013), Ski Lodges on the Summit: A history of the Ski Tourers Association’ sites - Albina Lodge, Kunama Hutte, the Northcote Tow and Illawong Lodge 1951-83; published by the Kosciuszko Huts Association; accessed at: http://www.khuts.org/images/stories/history/LodgesOnTheSummit_dscott_aug2013.pdf

Smith, Bob (web master) (2013), Christine Davy entry on Connellan Airways to Connair to Northern Airlines Flight Crews List on AussieAirliners.org website, accessed at: http://www.aussieairliners.org/crewlists/connellan.html

Stephenson, Barry (2011), Turalla Cemetery, entry on the Australian Cemeteries website; accessed at: http://www.australiancemeteries.com.au/nsw/yarrowlumla/turalladata.htm

Tristan Loraine (2008), Flying sheilas: Australia seen through the eyes and experiences of unique Australian female pilots. 74 minute DVD produced by Fact not Fiction Films Limited, Horsham, West Sussex, United Kingdom, 2008.

Various other web searches on Christine Davy

Whitfield, Doug (2002), The Call of the Kyeema, Success Print, Bayswater, Western Australia (2002), ISBN 0975128949, accessed from google books at: http://books.google.com.au/books?id=vqt385EWc6QC&pg=PA106&lpg=PA106&dq=christine+davy+pilot&source=bl&ots=gtEKurj1jr&sig=WTCsBIVxL7trBCWcwJv1Vdj3VMM&hl=en&sa=X&ei=Bh9BUZrjBYLwkQXr9oGQDA&ved=0CFQQ6AEwBzgK#v=onepage&q=christine%20davy%20pilot&f=false

Wright-Rogers, Claire (2015), Who was Connellan Airport named after? An article on Growing up in Alice Springs public facebook group, accessed at: https://www.facebook.com/groups/143574525779116/permalink/719099414893288/