Maude 'Lores' Bonney

Maude Rose "Lores" Bonney, AM, MBE (20 November 1897 – 24 February 1994) was a South African-born British aviator. She was the first woman to fly solo from Australia to the UK.[1]

Early lifeEdit

Born as Maude Rose Rubens, in Pretoria, South Africa, she adopted the name "Lores" later in preference to her given names. The family moved first to England, then to Australia. After education first in Melbourne, and then at a finishing school in Germany, she met and married Harry Barrington Bonney, a leather goods manufacturer, in 1917 and moved to Brisbane, Queensland.


In 1928 she met Bert Hinkler, Harry Bonney's first cousin once removed and a Queensland aviator who had set a solo England–Australia record in his Avro Avian biplane (now in the Queensland Museum, Brisbane). His exploits fired her imagination and her first flight in his Avian confirmed her determination to learn to fly. She took her first lessons secretly, but when she told her husband, he bought her the de Havilland DH.60 Gypsy Moth with which she began her record-breaking flights:

1931   DH 60G VH-UPV Brisbane-Wangaratta 1600 km
Longest one-day flight by an airwoman
1932 DH 60G VH-UPV Round-Australia 12,800 km
First woman to circumnavigate the Australian mainland by air
1933 DH 60G VH-UPV Brisbane-Croydon, UK 20,000 km
First woman to fly from Australia to England.
1937 Klemm L32-V VH-UVE Brisbane-Cape Town 16,826 km
First flight Australia to South Africa

The outbreak of the Second World War ended her flying career just as she was planning her next flight – around the world, via Japan, Alaska and the United States. The Klemm L32-V VH-UVE was destroyed in a hangar fire in 1939. VH-UPV was requisitioned for the war effort, deployed to a flying training unit, declared unserviceable and scrapped after the war. During the war, Bonney served on the executive of the Queensland branch of the Women’s Voluntary National Register.[2] She returned to flying after the war but retired in 1949 due to failing eyesight.[2] During the 1950s she was president of the Queensland branch of the Australian Women Pilots’ Association.[2]

Bonney died at her home in Miami on Queensland's Gold Coast in 1994, aged 96.


Lores Bonney Riverwalk in Hamilton, Queensland

For her Australia–England flight, Bonney was appointed a Member of the Order of the British Empire by King George V. The Bonney Trophy which she presented in England is still awarded annually to an outstanding female British pilot. The Australian Women Pilots Association has established a trophy in her honour. Lores Bonney was inducted into the "Ninety-Nines", the American society of women flyers who had pioneering roles in aviation. Her name and her wings were placed on the wall of the Flyer's Chapel at California's St. Francis Atrio Mission[3] alongside the names of Charles Lindbergh, Charles Kingsford Smith and Amelia Earhart. Griffith University, Queensland, awarded her an honorary doctorate for her services to aviation. In 2012 she was inducted into the Australian Aviation Hall of Fame.[4]

Despite other women pilots of her era receiving more promotion and publicity, Lores Bonney has been publicly recognised in Brisbane in a number of ways since she died:

  • The Lores Bonney Riverwalk was opened in 2019 as part of the Kingsford Smith Drive upgrade project by Brisbane City Council, along the Brisbane River in the suburb of Hamilton.

Bonney featured in a Google Doodle on 20th November 2019, 122 years after her birth.[7]



  1. ^ "The life and times of aviatrix Lores Bonney". Saturday Extra. ABC radio national. Archived from the original on 28 August 2016. Retrieved 11 March 2016.
  2. ^ a b c Lappan, R. D. "Bonney, Maude Rose (Lores) (1897–1994)". Australian Dictionary of Biography. Retrieved 20 November 2019.
  3. ^ "A Journey to Peru, Down the Amazon". The Sydney Morning Herald. Sydney, New South Wales, Australia. 8 March 1956. p. 5. Retrieved 12 August 2019.
  4. ^ "13572"&re=true&rpp=200 AAHF inductee(s) 2012 at; retrieved 1 December 2019
  5. ^ Queensland Redistribution Commission (26 May 2017). "Determination of Queensland's Legislative Assembly Electoral Districts" (PDF). Queensland Government Gazette. p. 172. Archived (PDF) from the original on 29 October 2017. Retrieved 29 October 2017.
  6. ^ "Proposal for the redistribution of the state's electoral districts" (PDF). State electoral boundaries Queensland. February 2017. Archived (PDF) from the original on 28 February 2017. Retrieved 2 March 2017.
  7. ^ "The remarkable story of the first woman to fly solo from Australia to England". The Independent. 20 November 2019. Retrieved 20 November 2019.
  8. ^ MBE Archived 13 March 2016 at the Wayback Machine It's an Honour
  9. ^ AM Archived 13 March 2016 at the Wayback Machine It's an Honour

Further readingEdit

External linksEdit