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Gaby Kennard

In their own words

Recorded 2021

Gaby Kennard
Audio: 2 minutes

When I was a little kid, I suppose five or six, I had this thing about wanting to fly. And so I would always imagine myself in position to take off and I think I used to press my belly button if I remember correctly and then I would imagine I’d fly off. I didn’t realise where it came from but I think it was in my DNA.

But it’s interesting because I didn’t … I was so involved with marriage and having a child and working and doing all that that I really didn’t think a lot about it until I decided I’d better learn. I was 32, I think. I had recently been divorced and then I’d started to think when I’d got my divorce, oh, what is it that I want to do, I better get on with what I want to do and so the first thing was to learn flying.

I was passing by the aerodrome in Albion Park – and I’d actually been passing it for about ten years – thinking I should learn to fly. It makes me feel quite emotional just talking about it. I finally got the strength one day to go in and say I’d like to learn to fly and really that was huge for me. And the first guy that I said that to who was the assistant flying instructor said ‘Oh no, sorry, I don’t believe in women flying. So I’m not going to teach you’. And luckily the receptionist who was a really sweet girl, she got the CFI who was the chief flying instructor and he came out and I said ‘Look I really want to learn to fly’. And so I flew with him and we had a great relationship. And he tried to scare the hell out of me but it didn’t matter what he did, he didn’t scare me. So it was really quite a wonderful experience. And it just shows you can do anything really.

I never ever thought about being the first Australian woman to fly solo around the world. Never thought about it, it was nothing to do with anything like that, it was just me wanting to do my thing and I didn’t even know that anyone would be interested, to be honest. I admired her very much, Amelia, and I thought well why don’t I commemorate her because she didn’t make it. I suppose I just got that thing that I wanted to commemorate her, so I did.

Acknowledgements

This recording was made during interviews for the National Portrait Gallery's Portrait Stories series.

Related people

Gabrielle Kennard OAM

Related information

Gaby Kennard

'I'd like to learn to fly'

Portrait story

Aviator Gaby Kennard talks about her portrait and what motivated her to fly around the world.

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The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders past and present. We respectfully advise that this site includes works by, images of, names of, voices of and references to deceased people.

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