Canadian Aviatrix #31 – Margaret Fane (1914-2004)

Margaret was born on 13 April 1914 in Edmonton, Alberta, to Morgan William Edward Fane and Edith Dorcas Fuller. Her parents were both originally from England, moved to Canada in the 1900s and got married in Edmonton in 1911.

1916 census

1921 census

1926 census

Edmonton AB

Edmonton AB

Edmonton AB

William

30

34

40

Dorcas

23

29

34

Doreen

4

9

14

Margaret

2

7

12

Kenneth

-

4

9

Hector

-

3

8

Harry

-

-

3

Marilyn

-

-

[Born 1930]

 

William started out as a carriage builder, before moving into auto repair and body building. In 1928, he opened “the largest automobile repair plant in the west”. He was also a founding member of the Edmonton Glider Club.

Margaret had an active life in Edmonton – winning prizes for swimming and debating, as well as performing in entertainments for the church and attending many social events. She fell in love with flying after her parents took her for a visit to the airport when she was six years old. At 14, she had her first passenger flight.

On 12 October 1933, Margaret passed her flying test and received PPL #1317, making her the 31st female pilot in Canada. She was 19 years old.

Canadian Aviatrix #31 – Margaret Fane (1914-2004) 

Photo: Edmonton Journal (April 18, 1933)

She was an active member of the Edmonton and Northern Aero Club – arranging parties and balls, and entering flying competitions. In May 1934, she was the only woman pilot to compete at the air show. A plane crashed during the event, killing one person and injuring three others. Margaret saw it happen, so rushed to the hangar to call for emergency services.

Margaret was also the only woman to take part in the Aero Club’s dawn-to-dusk flight. One was planned in June 1934 to commemorate the fifteenth anniversary of the first Atlantic flight, but bad weather stopped flying after four hours. The second event was in August, to celebrate the twenty-fifth anniversary of the first flight in Canada. She was inspired by this style of event when the Flying Seven was formed!

She continued her aviation education – taking dual instruction on seaplanes while visiting Vancouver, plus getting assessed to carry passengers. Her first passenger was either Mayor Dan K Knott at an Aero Club event or her brother Ken.

In 1935, Margaret became the sixth women to hold a commercial pilot’s licence in Canada, passing her test on 28 August. She also got her radio operator’s licence.

That same year, William retired, sold his business and moved the family to Vancouver. The Aero Club presented Margaret with an inscribed watch when she left. On her arrival, she immediately joined the Vancouver Aero Club!

In 1936, the Flying Seven were formed. Margaret’s involvement in the group will be part of a separate article. (In the photo below, she's second from the right.)

Margaret Fane - The Flying Seven 

Photo: Canada Aviation and Space Museum – CAVM-22374

In 1938, Margaret was said to be the world’s only woman radio operator for an airline – she was employed by Ginger Coote Airways in the gold-mining town of Zeballos. By 1940, she was chief dispatcher and traffic manager. She also flew planes when required – for example, transporting the company’s new Lockheed Lodestars from Edmonton to Vancouver in 1941.

On 19 May 1942, Margaret married Gordon Alexander Scott. The following year, they moved to Seattle where Gordon worked for Canadian Pacific Airlines.

Gordon died in 1953 after a lengthy battle with cancer. Margaret got remarried to Keith Rutledge on 10 November 1956.

Margaret continued to work in aviation – in 1975, setting up Canadian Pacific Airlines new reservation system in Montreal. Once she retired, she shared her love of flying by giving talks on the Flying Seven, her career and the early days of flying. In 1991, she was part of the attractions for the 60th anniversary of the Vancouver International Airport.

Margaret was also a member of the Quarter Century in Aviation Club for people with 25+ years of aviation experience. Sadly, the group shut down in 2020.

Margaret died in 2004, aged 90. There is a road in Edmonton named after her, as well as an aviation scholarship at the Okanagan College.

The First 100 Canadian Women Pilots

 

 

 

 

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