UK News Maude 'Lores' Bonney: why a Google Doodle is marking the pioneering Australian aviator's 122nd birthday
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is celebrating the Australian aviator Maude "Lores" Bonney with a special commemorative on what would have been .
The first woman to fly solo from Australia to England, Bonney made her groundbreaking voyage in 1933, surviving heavy storms, two crashes and a confrontation with a herd of water buffalo.
Her achievements made her a pioneer for female pilots, earning her an MBE and inspiring the generations of women that followed – here's what you need to know about her.
Maude Rose Rubens was born on 20 November 1897 in Pretoria, South Africa, later adopting the name "Lores".
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She moved with her family first to England and then to Australia, growing up in Melbourne before attending a finishing school in Germany.
It was there that she met her husband Harry Barrington Bonney, and the married couple moved to Brisbane, Queensland.
The Google Doodle celebrating Bonney's 122nd birthday on 20 November (Photo: Google)
Harry's cousin was Bert Hinkler, a pioneering aviator and inventor dubbed the "Australian Lone Eagle", who was the first to fly solo both from Australia to England and across the Southern Atlantic Ocean.
It took just one flight in his Avron Avian biplane in 1928 to spark Bonney's desire to become a pilot.
She initially took flying lessons in secret, but after she revealed her intentions to her husband, he bought her a de Havilland "Gypsy Moth", named My Little Ship.
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In 1931, Bonney completed the first of her record-breaking feats in this aircraft with the longest one-day flight by a woman: a 1,600km, 15-hour voyage from Brisbane to Wangaratta, Victoria to meet her father for dinner.
From Brisbane to... Croydon
The following year, she became the first woman to circumnavigate Australia by air, a journey of 12,800km, before making her epic, history-making flight to England in 1933.
Her 20,000km trek from Brisbane to Croydon took 157 hours of flight time fraught with peril – her encounter with the buffalo came as she tried to land on a beach, forcing her to veer off into the sea.
After substantial delays caused by weather, bureaucracy and mechanical failures (and repairs), Bonney arrived in Croydon at 5.20pm on 21 June, two months and six days since she departed. Following her achievement, Bonney was appointed MBE by King George V in 1934.
She completed another milestone in 1937, flying a different aircraft – a Klemm Kl 32 – from Australia to South Africa, the country of her birth.
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Bonney was made an MBE following her record-breaking flight to England (Photo: State Library of Queensland)
However, her dream of completing a flight around the world (via Japan, Alaska and the US) was curtailed by the outbreak of the Second World War, and the destruction of her plane in a hangar fire.
Although she held a commercial pilot's licence until 1948, her failing eyesight and hearing ruled out any further record attempts after the war ended.
Bonney lived the rest of her long life in privacy, although further recognition came with the award of the Order of Australia Medal in 1991.
She died at the age of 96 in a nursing home, 57 years after setting her final record – as a final tribute, a Queensland electoral district was named in her honour in 2017.
'An inspiration for everyone'
The animatedhonouring Bonney's flight to England on 20 November was designed by the artist Matt Cruickshank, who said he was inspired by "her attitude to diversity".
Highlighting Google's efforts "to celebrate well-known and not-so-well-known stories equally", he explained: "I grew up reading boys’ adventure comics about male explorers.
"Bonney’s accomplishments are straight out of a girls’ adventure comic and are equally as important. She can be an inspiration for everyone."
On the design itslef, Cruickshank said: "Australia is East of the UK, so adding in both countries visually left me with the simple task of connecting Bonney’s journey using animation. Far easier than how she achieved the task."
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