Pat Toole – Our First Lady

Pat Toole (nee Graham) started to fly in 1948 in Coffs Harbour.  ‘Newcastle Aero Club had a branch in Grafton and every second weekend the instructor there would fly an aircraft down, usually a Tiger Moth, for the keen enthusiasts to learn to fly’. In 1948 it cost 2 pounds 10 shillings per hour for dual and 1 pound 5 shillings for solo, as Pat’s salary was 5 pounds per week it was typical that you tried very hard to go solo as soon as possible. ‘Occasionally another pilot from Grafton would bring a second aircraft, this being an Avro 643, so we were able to get in a bit more flying. This system continued for quite some years’.

Pat obtained her PPL in Coffs Harbour in 1949 and transferred to Tamworth where again Newcastle Aero Club had a branch with a permanent instructor and several aircraft. ‘While in Tamworth I studied for my Commercial Licence which I was granted at the end of 1951.  I used to fly home to Coffs quite often up until the time I left to go to Papua New Guinea in 1952’.

Below are a couple of photo’s from Pat from her time in PNG. Pat recently attended our AWPA Fly In, an organisation she co founded with Nancy Bird Walton. Thanks Pat for this article, your quite a woman!