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Awarded for service to sport and recreation
Born: 23 June 1902
Died: 1 October 1988
Entered on roll: 2019
Frances Isabel Jackson (nee Hyatt, later Nichols)
Frances Jackson was a pioneer Tasmanian aviator during the 1930s, a time when aviation captured the public imagination as an unusual, exciting and dangerous activity.
Frances Isabel Hyatt was born at Dunalley, in 1902, and married Oswald Jackson in 1919. The couple lived at Murdunna.
Women had been disallowed from learning to fly in Australia until 1927, and were not permitted to fly in Tasmania for some time afterwards.
In 1930, Frances enrolled in the Goulburn Aero Club in New South Wales and gained a Class A (private) pilot licence in December. Frances was the first woman to fly to and from Goulburn and Mascot (Sydney), and was praised for flying part of the route on instruments only due to poor visibility.
On returning to Tasmania, Frances became an active member of the Australian Aero Club (Tasmanian Section) and competed in local and interstate aerial pageants and races. She won numerous trophies with the Australian Aero Club (Tasmanian Section), including the Spot Landing in August 1931; the Tasmanian Aerial Derby Handicap (Holyman Cup) in 1932; the Tasmanian Aerial Oakes in March 1934; Head of the Air Race at Cambridge in 1937; and the President’s Challenge Shield also in 1937.
Her success in the air generated publicity about the “fearless, skilful pilot, having excellent control of her machine” (The Examiner 2 March 1931) who “thrilled the crowds, tossing her machine around with fearless ease” (The Mercury 9 December 1977). On 25 March 1937, The Mercury described Frances Jackson as “the foremost air woman in this State”.
Frances appeared to lose interest in flying after her first husband died in 1938. In the 1940s, she remarried local farmer and builder, Bill Nichols, and was again widowed in 1963. The couple did not have children but fostered two girls.
Frances’ pioneer aerial exploits were not forgotten. Several of her trophies are on display at the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery.