Hazel Fausak and Lois Argue did not care that aviation was a male-dominated field when they signed up during World War II.
So Fausak, from Evansburg, hopped on a train bound for Toronto, where she trained as a radio operator for the Ferry Command. She handled secret communications for military aircraft crossing to Europe.
“The only [other] job I could get after high school was as a housekeeper, and that didn’t pay very much,” Fausak told an interviewer before her death early last year at the age of 93.
Argue, now 96, joined the RCAF Women’s Division and was the first woman hired to work at Edmonton’s Blatchford Field where she served as a medical assistant.
She was similarly unfazed about being the only woman around. “I didn’t give a darn,” she said.
Both women will be honoured during the Women of Aviation Worldwide Week celebration being held at the Alberta Aviation Museum on March 11.
“These pioneering women saw a future for themselves in a field that was not welcoming,” says Zena Conlin, coordinator of the event. “While things have changed for women in aviation, the numbers are stil
l very small.”
Women make up only 6% of private pilots in Canada. Fewer than 5% of all airline transport pilot license holders are female. Female mechanics make up under 2% of mechanics worldwide and women hold only 16% of jobs as air traffic controllers in Canada.
“That is why it is important to recognize Women of Aviation Worldwide Week. We need to tell young women there are many great and rewarding careers waiting for them in aviation.” Conlin says.
Two accomplished present-day pilots will be key-note speakers: Captain Elizabeth Williams, a helicopter pilot with 408 Squadron, based at the Edmonton Garrison, and Captain Rosella Bjornson, Canada’s first female, airline pilot will talk about their careers.
There will also be crafts, tours and displays of interest to all ages. Hours are from 10 am to 4 pm, with the main ceremony and speeches at 1 pm. For this event, we are offering half price admission for girls 17 and under.
- For more on Hazel Fausak’s career, check out this Huffington Post story. A biography of Lois Argue can be found here. Short videos of both women can be found at the museum’s new Youtube channel.
- More on the Women of Aviation Worldwide Week celebration can be found here.
- Biographies of the Hazel Fausak, Lois Argue, Captain Elizabeth Williams and Rosella Bjornson can be found here.