Thursday, May 2, 2024


By Mary Davis

“I would like to think those flights of mine have a small corner in the history of achievement.” Lores Bonney


Maude Rose “Lores” (Rubens) Bonney


One would think with all those names that a person would be remembered. One would think that setting flying records would afford a person to be remembered. But alas, Lores Bonney faded into obscurity for most of the rest of her life.


Born Maude Rose Rubens on November 20, 1897 in Pretoria, South African Republic, her parents moved to England when she was four, then to Australia two years later in 1903. She didn’t like her given name so adopted the name Delores, which was shortened to Lores (pronounced Lor-ee).


“To put it bluntly, I was a rebel.” Lores Bonney


Her German-born father sent her to a German finishing school in 1911 to rein in her unruly behavior. She learned German, French, and became an accomplished pianist. While performing her first concert for Kaiser Wilhelm’s sister, she got a serious case of stage fright, feigned a nosebleed, and ran off the stage. Her first and last performance.


In 1917, while working for the Red Cross during WWI, she met and married Harry Bonney, nineteen years her senior. Though they wanted children, their marriage bore them none.


In 1928, she met Bert Hinkler, her husband’s first cousin once removed. He was an acclaimed pilot, having been the first to fly solo from England to Australia earlier that year. He took Bonney up in his Avro Avian biplane.


“It was the answer to my dreams. I adored birds, and there I was literally feeling like one. There and then I decided then to become a pilot.” Lores Bonney


But not merely to fly, she wanted to break records. She secretly took lessons while her husband golfed, because she didn’t know if he would approve. Her first lesson was on August 6, 1930. Within a year, she earned her private pilot’s license and confessed to her husband. His response was to buy her an airplane, a de Havilland DH.60 Gypsy Moth, which she named My Little Ship.


The first record she broke was in 1931 when she flew from Brisbane, Australia to Wangaratta, Australia. She spent Christmas with her husband, but wanted to have supper with her father the next day. She took off at 4:30 am and landed at 7:20 pm in time for supper. The longest one-day flight by a woman.


The second record was being the first woman to circumnavigate Australia’s mainland by air in 1932.


The third record was in 1933 when she was the first woman to fly from Australia to England, taking off on April 10, 1933. She wanted to make the same flight Bert Hinkler had set a record for. As with any of these kinds of early records, the trip was fraught with difficulties.


Lores Bonney overhauls her machine, April 11, 1933


With Victoria Point, Queensland, Australia only 50km away, Bonney ran into a terrible storm but felt she could fly through it. The clouds darkened and lightning cracked around her. The strong winds buffeted her about, and she feared the wings were going to get torn off, so she turned back to an island she had flown over.


She needed to make an emergency landing before the rain engulfed the island. With the tide out, she spotted a strip of wet, firm sand to land on. She made a smooth landing rather than her usual kangaroo-hopping ones, with no one there to witness it except a lone buffalo in her path. She turned to miss the beast, causing the aircraft wing to hit the water, flipping the plane. Bonney was trapped in the cockpit underwater part of the time when the waves rolled in. The harness release pin was bent, inhibiting her frantic efforts to free herself.


“What an inglorious finish — to be drowned in my cockpit, upside down.” Lores Bonney


After some struggle, she freed herself and got out of her wreckage. The wings, rudder, propeller, and tail fin were all smashed, only the fuselage and engine were relatively undamaged. After six days on the island, she and her aircraft were taken to Calcutta where it took a month to repair. Undeterred, she continued on to England on May 25, 1933 and touched down in England on June 21, 1933.


Then in 1937 came her fourth record when she was the first to fly from Australia to South Africa. She flew her newly acquired German Klemm L32 monoplane, named My Little Ship II. She ran into many difficulties along the way; torrential rains, sandstorms in the Middle East, bureaucrats, stranded during a bush landing, and heat so hot she couldn’t touch the throttle with her bare hands. Also, the glue on the soles of her shoes melted from the hot rudder pedals.


Though repairs took only three weeks in Khartoum, she decided to wait another three days for Amelia Earhart so she could meet her fellow aviatrix. Earhart and Fred Noonan were on their infamous ’round the world flight and due to stop in Khartoum any day. Hearing no word of where the pair was, Bonney decided she could wait no longer and took off on July 10, 1937. Earhart and Noonan landed two days later. Unfortunately, they disappeared shortly thereafter, and Bonney never got to meet her.


It took her another five weeks, including several repairs and a broken altimeter that nearly led her into the side of the mountain, before she finally landed in Cape Town, South Africa.


After WWII, she hung up her wings, partly due to age and diminished eyesight.


“I always liked to say I traveled the world with a Gipsy [sic].” Lores Bonney


She died in 1994 at age 96 of pneumonia. In 2017, an electoral district was created and named after her in Queensland, and in 2019, the Lores Bonney Riverwalk was opened in Brisbane, Australia.


3rd Place 2023 SELAH Award

A WASP (Women Airforce Service Pilots) flies a secret mission to rescue three soldiers held captive in Cuba.

Margaret “Peggy” Witherspoon is a thirty-four-year-old widow, mother of two daughters, an excellent pilot, and very patriotic. She joins the WASP (Women Airforce Service Pilots). As she performs various tasks like ferry aircraft, transporting cargo, and being an airplane mechanic, she meets and develops feelings for her supervisor Army Air Corp Major Howie Berg. When Peggy learns of U.S. soldiers being held captive in Cuba, she, Major Berg, and two fellow WASPs devise an unsanctioned mission to rescue them. With Cuba being an ally in the war, they must be careful not to ignite an international incident. Order HERE!

MARY DAVIS, bestselling, award-winning novelist, has over thirty titles in both historical and contemporary themes. Her latest release is THE LADY’S MISSION. Her other novels include THE DÉBUTANTE'S SECRET (Quilting Circle Book 4) THE DAMSEL’S INTENT (The Quilting Circle Book 3) is a SELAH Award Winner. Some of her other recent titles include; THE WIDOW'S PLIGHT, THE DAUGHTER'S PREDICAMENT, “Zola’s Cross-Country Adventure” in The MISSAdventure Brides Collection, Prodigal Daughters Amish series, "Holly and Ivy" in A Bouquet of Brides Collection, and "Bygones" in Thimbles and Threads. She is a member of ACFW and active in critique groups.

Mary lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband of thirty-seven years and one cat. She has three adult children and three incredibly adorable grandchildren. Find her online at:
Books2Read Newsletter Blog FB FB Readers Group Amazon GoodReads BookBub



1 comment:

  1. Thank you for continuing to post stories of these amazing women. Apparently, fear is not an option in their world!