Fran West, first woman pilot to fly around the coast of Australia (mainland and Tasmania) in a light aircraft

July 03, 2010

Hi Mac,

Would you like a more up to date record for Australian women pilots?

My site is www.franwest.com and I did a coastal flight around Australia - the first woman as PIC in a light

Hope to hear back from you.

Fran West


Congratulations on your adventures and achievements.

Thank you for our mail, we will add your story to my AHOY piece about Women Pilots in Australia at our URL: Women Pioneers of Australian Aviation

Flights Oz Flight '99 Fran West

A marathon flight around the coast of Australia (mainland and Tasmania) to commemorate the 21st anniversary of Pelican's Progress, recording the flight with photographs, and to promote Soroptimist International (a women's service organisation).

Fran West flew about 27,000 kilometres (equivalent to over half way around the world).

Her flight path was anti-clockwise around the coast, mostly flying over the ocean within gliding distance of land at heights of 1,000 to 1,500 feet (300 to 500 metres).

She landed on 90 different airstrips: 75 for the mainland and 15 for Tasmania, including landings on Phillip Island (Victoria), Horn, Sweers and Mornington Islands (Queensland), and Flinders, Cape Barren and Bruny Islands (Tasmania).

The 145 hours flying time included detours inland to Lawn Hill National Park (Queensland), Newman, Karijini National Park, Windjana Gorge, Geikie Gorge, the Bungles, Argyle Diamond Mine, Halls Creek, Wolfe Creek Crater and Kalbarri National Park (Western Australia) and Cradle Mountain (Tasmania).

As with most adventures, there were testing times that brought an adrenalin rush. Like flying through smoke haze from the burn off season in the Northern Territory, being forced lower towards the ocean to dodge heavy rain showers, and turning back because of strong turbulence buffeting the plane about the sky.

It was 7 years dreaming, 2 years planning, 3 months adventuring. In other words: dream it, plan it, do it!

Best wishes.

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