Yvonne Loader (front) has a passion for flying. The Records Photo McCaw Media, Christchurch

Queen’s Birthday Honour for pilot

by Mike Isle

A Christchurch woman with a passion for soaring over Selwyn is flying high after featuring in this year’s Queen’s Birthday Honours.

Yvonne Loader was made a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit (MNZM) for her services to the sport of gliding.

She said she was “totally surprised” when she received a letter from Governor-General Dame Patsy Reddy saying that she had been nominated for the award.

“It was just amazing to me that people would take the time to recognise my work in gliding. There is a lot involved in making a nomination, and I am really grateful to the people who did it,” she said.

However, it is not the first award Yvonne Loader has been given.

The Federation Aeronautique Internationale, based in Switzerland, presented her with the Paul Tissandier Diploma, awarded to those who have served the cause of aviation in general and sport in particular for their work, initiative and devotion.

Loader flies gliders and powered aircraft, instructs on gliders, and is also a tow pilot. She is a secretary for two gliding clubs and raises funds to go towards safety and better equipment for gliding clubs. Among many projects, her funding successes have provided youth with subsidised flying and contributed to the construction of a new hangar at Springfield.

Yvonne started flying in 1972. Even as a student pilot, her professionalism showed. Attending the annual NZ Airwomen’s Association (NZAWA, now NZ Association of Women in Aviation) rally, she gained two seconds and a first, giving her the trophy for top student, much to her surprise. The following year she came first in all her competitions and, capping that with the Top Aviatrix Trophy, came home with a planeload of trophies.

In 1988, on a soaring flight above Mt Cook, she flew at more than 37,000ft, setting a world record (feminine) for gain of height and two New Zealand national records for the gain of height and absolute height.

She has been awarded the Gliding NZ Friendship Cup for her outstanding contribution to the gliding movement, and the Gliding NZ Angus Rose Bowl as recognition of outstanding services to the sport of gliding in New Zealand. The Record thanks NZ Aviation News for permission to quote from their article on Yvonne.