The British Women Pilots’ Association (BWPA) has honoured 84-year-old Yvonne Sintes, first women Air Traffic Controller and first woman to captain a commercial jet airliner, as well as one of its founder members, with the award of the Jean Lennox Bird Pendant.
The award was presented to Yvonne by Air Chief Marshal Sir John Allison KCB CBE FRAeS at the recent Royal Aero Club Annual awards ceremony. The award is made to a British woman pilot who has served aviation over a period of time in any aspect, consistently achieving goals, showing diligence to duties and encouragement to others.
Pauline Vahey, Chairman of the BWPA said, “Yvonne has been an inspiration to women wanting to follow a career in aviation. Her career in aviation as an instructor, air traffic controller, and ultimately as a Captain flying BAC 111s for Dan Air has been truly remarkable, and is aptly reflected the title of her book, “Trailblazer in Flight.”
Yvonne gained her PPL and Assistant Instructor Rating at Denham in 1953. She subsequently worked as an instructor at Stapleford and Exeter, hour building in order to progress to a full commercial licence. She flew continuously until her retirement in 1980 with over 10,000 hours logged.
She was the first woman to train as an Air Traffic Controller and worked mainly at Gatwick.
As a commercial pilot she flew Dakotas, Ambassadors, and the Comet – “that was my favourite – lovely aeroplane”, says Yvonne. With Dan Air she flew a 748 and got her first jet command flying a BAC 111 in 1963.
Yvonne is delighted to see that there are now many more women in commercial aviation than in her day. “I would say to any woman thinking about taking up flying – if you have the vocation then go ahead. It is expensive, but there are scholarships there to help meet the costs of training. It is well worth it – a wonderful career.”