OTD: Eileen Vollick becomes Canada’s first licensed female pilot

On today’s date in 1928, Eileen Vollick obtained her pilot’s license, becoming Canada’s first licensed female pilot.

The Wiarton, Ont.-native made history at 19 years old when she took flight from the icy waters of Burlington Bay, near Hamilton, Ont., making three three-point landings on the ice and passing her test to become the 77th licensed pilot in Canada.

In 2008, to mark her 80th birthday, Vollick published a column, entitled “How I cecame Canada’s first licensed woman pilot,” in the local section of the Owen Sound Sun Times, in which she explained her fateful day.

“The government inspector had arrived and the cadets waited anxiously,” she wrote.

“Before a license can be issued, the pilot must make four landings, from a height of 1,500 feet, within 150 feet of a spot designated on the ground, one landing from 5,000 feet with the motor shut off, five figure 8 (eight) turns between two designated marks, and a 175-miles cross-country flight. The day previous to the tests I had the extreme pleasure of taking Captain G. B. Holmes, Government Inspector, for a flight, and he gave me great credit for the able manner in which I handled the plane. On March 13, 1928, (lucky day for me) along with ten other cadets of the Elliot Flying School, I successfully passed the Government Civil Aviation examination, making three three-point landings on the ice with skiis, in place of wheels, to the utmost satisfaction of Captain Holmes, and the hearty congratulations of my instructors, and fellow students.”

According to the Canadian Ninety-Nines—who we’ll get to shortly—Vollick was also the first Canadian woman to parachute into water.

2008 PICTURE POSTAGE STAMP

Also in 2008, through Canada Post’s Picture Postage program, Vollick was celebrated as Canada’s first licensed female pilot on a stamp designed by the Canadian Ninety-Nines, the world’s largest and oldest organization of licensed female pilots. The stamp was the group’s first issue and, like all Picture Postage stamps, can be used as regular letter postage within Canada.

Designed by Suzanne Wiltshire, it depicts Vollick in the Curtiss Jenny aircraft alongside an inset portrait of the famed pilot.

Canada Post’s Picture Postage program allows anyone to create personalized stamps and postcards via the Internet or from a mobile device for less than $30. The stamps can be used to mail a standard-size envelope weighing up to 30 grams to anywhere in Canada.

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