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Fraser flying high after honours

Jennifer Armstrong drives 93-year-old Rhona Fraser and her brand-new Mustang straight off the lot floor. PHOTO/ALEYNA MARTINEZ

Rhona Fraser

MNZM

For services to women and aviation

GIANINA SCHWANECKE
[email protected]

Greytown’s Rhona Fraser has always enjoyed living fast – horses, planes and now a Mustang.

The 93-year-old has been recognised in this year’s Queen’s Birthday Honours and appointed a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit for her decades of service to women in the aviation industry.

Fraser said she had always been interested in flying, ever since she was a little girl.

“From about the age of 12, I always wanted to look if I heard something in the air. I used to think, ‘lucky blighter’.”

She went on to start flying Tiger Moth aircraft at Wellington Airport and became the first woman after World War II to gain her private pilot’s licence.

Fraser also went on to become the first woman to fly solo from the Wellington Aero Club.

“It was lovely,” she said.

There were some challenges though and initially some men were sceptical, she said.

Her work helping establish the New Zealand Association of Women in Aviation in 1960, helped break down barriers to aviation for women.

“Of course, with the increase in numbers things have moved along a bit.”

NZAWA has increased the participation of women in the aviation industry over the past 60 years, through providing mentoring, information, and scholarships to women and girls throughout New Zealand.

It has more than 200 members.

Fraser was also the Patroness of NZAWA from 1999 to 2016 and has been a member of the Ninety-Nines since 2004, an international organisation for women pilots.

She established a riding school on her property in 1974 and established the Wellington Area Competitive Trail Riding Club in 1987, which still runs to this day with about 100 members.

She was surprised and thankful to be recognised.

Celebrations might include a drive in her brand new kona blue Ford Mustang which she collected last Thursday.

It reminded her of her flying and horse-riding days, she said.

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