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Female pioneer aviators honoured

Prime Minister Samuel Hinds flanked by Cheryl Moore and Beverley Drake in whose honour commemorative stamps were launched

Eight outstanding women in the local aviation sector were Wednesday evening honoured for their sterling contributions and for paving the way for other Guyanese women to be a part of this reputable field.

These illustrious pioneers are: Cheryl Moore, who became the country’s first female military pilot in 1977, Beverley Drake, the first female commercial pilot in that same year, Barbara Adams, the first female helicopter pilot, Feriel Ally, the first female grand caravan pilot, Williette Gardner, the first female captain of a turbo prop aircraft twin otter, Debbie Gouveia, the first female to captain an islander in 1982, Paula Mc Adam, the first female air traffic controller in 1979, and Sandra Persaud, who in 1986, was the first female to be in airport administration at then Timehri International Airport.

Speaking at the honouring ceremony at the Officers’ Mess at Base Camp Ayanganna, Prime Minister Samuel Hinds said that the aviation sector has developed rapidly over the last century. In fact, the Guyana Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) is this year celebrating 100 years.

He saluted the eight female pioneers for being bold and daring enough to venture into a field that was, at that time, considered to be a man’s world.

Two of the honourees, Cheryl Moore and Beverley Drake were also presented with their own commemorative stamps, which were launched as part of the activities by Guyana Post Office Corporation (GPOC) in observance of World Post Day.

World Post Day was celebrated today under the theme “The Post, delivering for people and business daily”.

Minister of Public Works, Robeson Benn under whose responsibility the aviation sector falls said that 21st century undoubtedly belongs to women and unless they are liberated, fostered and mentored the world cannot move ahead.

He thanked the female aviation pioneers not only for their invaluable contribution to development of the sector, but to the development of the country as a whole. He said that women have proven themselves capable of functioning in any field.         The Minister also assured of the continued support of the Government, especially in terms of investment, to further expand and develop the sector.

Giving a historical perspective of Guyanese women in aviation, Lt. Col (Ret’d) Larry London said that the term “the sky is the limit” was never restricted to men in Guyana, as for years women have been managing the airspace as aviation operators.

However, there were no female pilots until 1976 when three groups of people (including women) were sent to be trained as pilots in places like Cuba, Florida and the United Kingdom.

Meanwhile, Chief -of -Staff of the Guyana Defence Force, Brigadier General Mark Phillips said that he was particularly proud that most of the honourees commenced their aviation careers in the Force.

The honourees were presented with plaques by the Prime Minister and the ceremony culminated with a cocktail reception.