Sydney Airport honours aviation trailblazer Deborah Lawrie with new flyover

Sydney Airport honours aviation trailblazer Deborah Lawrie with new flyover
Edited by Travel Weekly


    Sydney Airport has named the new flyover into the domestic airport after aviation trailblazer, Deborah Lawrie AM.

    Lawrie was the first woman in Australia to become a pilot for a commercial airline, but this only happened after a ground-breaking legal battle.

    Despite being qualified, Deborah Lawrie’s applications to be a pilot were repeatedly rejected due to her gender.

    In 1979, she won Australia’s first successful High Court sex discrimination case for employment, a decision that paved the way for women to get equal rights in workplaces across the country.

    Deborah Lawrie made history on 22 January 1980 when she co-piloted an Ansett flight from Alice Springs to Darwin.

    The Deborah Lawrie Flyover has been named in recognition of her significant service to aviation and her advocacy for gender equality.

    The flyover is part of the NSW government’s $2.6 billion Sydney Gateway project to improve traffic flow and reduce travel times.

    The Deborah Lawrie Flyover is adorned with Aboriginal artwork designed by Dennis Golding and Carmen Glynn-Braun from the Re-Right Collective, in partnership with the La Perouse elders and cultural advisors, to make it an eye-catching piece of infrastructure.

    This weekend, the 800-meter-long flyover will open to traffic, streamlining access to the T2 and T3 domestic terminals.

    Sydney Airport CEO, Geoff Culbert, said: “It is an honour to name this impressive piece of infrastructure after Australia’s first commercial female pilot, Deborah Lawrie.

    “Deborah Lawrie didn’t just pave the way for women in aviation, but her High Court win was the catalyst for change in workplaces across Australia to give women equal opportunities and rights.

    “More than four decades after that landmark case, Deborah Lawrie has notched up an impressive 20,000 flying hours, and we love seeing her come through Sydney Airport flying planes for Virgin.”

    Deborah Lawrie when she worked at Ansett

    Pilot Deborah Lawrie AM said: “If someone had said to me way back when I was 25, taking on Ansett in the High Court to become a commercial airline pilot, that one day there would be a flyover into Sydney Airport named after me, I would have thought they were mad.

    “I am very honoured and humbled by the incredible gesture to name this impressive flyover after me and I hope I can continue to inspire future generations of aviators.

    “To me, the flyover is like a gentle descending turn onto final approach, an engineering masterpiece.

    “Friends and colleagues are delighted when they hear that the flyover passes right over the top of Sir Reginald Ansett Drive.

    “I’ve walked beside and been fascinated by the construction of the flyover many times on my way to work but since I found out it will carry my name, I’ve stopped to take photos.”

    NSW Minister for Roads, John Graham, said: “Minister for Roads, John Graham said: “I am thrilled the Sydney Gateway flyover will forever honour Deborah Lawrie, a great Australian pioneer for women’s rights and workplace equality.

    “The fact that the Deborah Lawrie Flyover will cast a little shade over Sir Reginald Ansett Drive is most fitting for a woman who refused to be grounded by the era she grew up in and the man who said she would never make a commercial airline pilot.

    “Traffic using the flyover from Sunday is a key milestone for the toll-free Gateway project which is due for completion in 2024 and will have capacity for over 100,000 vehicles a day, solving one of Sydney’s most enduring traffic pinch points.”

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