Sydney Gateway project unveils flyover named after Deborah Lawrie, Australia’s first female commercial pilot

On Monday 6 November 2023, there was a media event hosted by the NSW Minister for Roads, the Hon. John Graham and the Sydney Airport Chief Corporate Affairs Officer, Ms Karen Halbert, with the official name, of the Flyover, announced as the Deborah Lawrie Flyover.

More than 40 years ago, Deborah Lawrie fought and won a landmark sex discrimination case that allowed her to work as a pilot at the commercial airline Ansett. Soon after, she became the first Australian woman to work as a commercial pilot.

NSW Minister for Roads, John Graham, hailed Lawrie as “a great Australian pioneer for women’s rights and workplace equality”.

“The fact that the Deborah Lawrie Flyover will cast a little shade over Sir Reginald Ansett Drive is most fitting for a woman who refused to be grounded by the era she grew up in and the man who said she would never make a commercial airline pilot,” he said.

“Traffic using the flyover from Sunday is a key milestone for the toll-free Gateway project which is due for completion in 2024 and will have capacity for over 100,000 vehicles a day, solving one of Sydney’s most enduring traffic pinch points.”

Over her nearly 50 years in the aviation industry, Lawrie said she had witnessed many improvements for women looking to become pilots.

“My granddaughter, who’s only 19 months old…aviation is in the family and it feels great to know that one day she will see this structure as a great honour to her grandmother,” Lawrie said.

“The industry has changed so much over the last 50 years and today there are many more opportunities for women. There’s still a lot of work to do though and I’ll continue to advocate for women in aviation.”

Deborah Lawrie continues to work as a pilot for Virgin and is widely regarded as a role model for women in the industry. She was appointed a member of the Order of Australia in 2001 and has been inducted into the Aviation Hall of Fame.