Middle Grey's Performance Venue
Speaker Series 2023 – Marilyn Dickson
Speaker Series 2023 – Marilyn Dickson
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18 Oct 2023



Speaker Series 2023 – Marilyn Dickson

The Intrepid Vi Milstead

Vi Milstead earned her Private Pilot Licence within a dozen years of the first Canadian woman completing her pilot’s licence. When Vi had her first flying lesson the day after Britain declared war on Germany, she had no inkling of how her flying would lead her overseas to become part of that war. As men scrambled to join the air force and learn to fly, Vi worked full time to finance her flying.

By late 1942 when aviation fuel was rationed in Canada, Vi lost her instructing job. She kept flying by joining the Air Transport Auxiliary in Britain. For two years she flew 47 types of training planes, fighters and bombers from factories and maintenance units to wherever they were needed.

When Vi returned home in 1945, she tried office work, but soon found herself instructing again. In 1947 she headed north to Nickel Belt Airways where she instructed and flew prospectors, trappers and fire fighters, in northern Ontario – likely Canada’s first woman bush pilot.

During the last 14 years of Vi’s life she and Marilyn became close friends as they reflected on her life, particularly, but not limited to, her flying. Marilyn’s work as a pilot and flight instructor gives her a strong appreciation for Vi’s flying.

In researching Vi’s work, Marilyn identified nine other Canadian born women, an interesting assortment, who also joined the ATA. Her presentation includes unique features of some of these women within the ATA.

Marilyn Dickson

Marilyn learned to fly in 1988, and subsequently completed a Commercial Licence and Multi-engine, Instrument, Instructor and Seaplane ratings.

She enjoyed careers – as teacher, and then staff officer, for a provincial women teachers’ organization of over 40,000 members. She incorporated her love of flying in her Ph. D. dissertation, Slipping the Bonds, using a flying metaphor for women teachers moving into leadership roles.

Her flying career included charter flying as a Navajo co-pilot, as well as instructing private and commercial students, and teenagers in summer camps.

As a Ninety-Nines member Marilyn has worked on several First Canadian Chapter and East Canada Section committees, serving as Governor in 1999- 2000.

Marilyn’s In-Person Presentation

Marilyn’s Streaming Presentation
Viewing will continue to be available after the event.

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