Canadian Aviatrix #71 – Evelyn Fletcher (born 1916)

Evelyn Mary Fletcher was born around 1916 to Cyrus Mehring Fletcher (a dentist) and Florence Fall.

1916 census

1921 census

1926 census

Lethbridge AB

Lethbridge AB

Lethbridge AB

Cyrus

27

31

36

Florence

27

27

32

Andrew

-

6

11

Evelyn

-

4

9

Calvin

-

1

6

Lorraine

-

-

4

 

Evelyn was a member of the Lethbridge Gilder Club and set Canadian gliding records for duration, altitude and distance – 56 minutes, 4,000 feet and 14 miles.

On 24 October 1939, Evelyn passed her flying test and received her PPL, making her the 71st female pilot in Canada. She was 23 years old.

Canadian Aviatrix #71 – Evelyn Fletcher (born 1916)

Photo: University of Calgary

Evelyn was a member of the Calgary Aero Club and was elected secretary-treasurer. (Another director was her future husband.) Her ambitions were to move to England and get a job as a test pilot or ferrying planes. She wasn’t hopeful about women’s aviation opportunities in Canada.

In July 1940, the newspapers reported that Evelyn had passed her commercial pilot’s flying test. This isn’t reflected in the list in ‘No Place For A Lady’, so either the list is missing some entries or Evelyn didn’t complete the process to get her actual license. It may be that her personal life took precedence…

On 7 September 1940, Evelyn married William Watson Smith, who was chief flying officer at the Lethbridge training school. The couple had one daughter.

The Calgary Herald said that Bill should be called “Mr Calgary Flying Club” due to the support he gave the organization for 30 years. He joined the club in its second year, worked as their air engineer then chief instructor, before going on active duty with the RCAF. After the war, he reactivated the club, which had been acting as an elementary flying training school. In 1964, the club held a testimonial evening to honour him.

Bill died in 1980. It’s suggested that Evelyn died in 2004, but I don’t have a source to back that up yet.

Note: Evelyn was listed with an asterisk in No Place for a Lady – meaning the author hadn’t been able to find her. I just had “E. Fletcher” and the date of her PPL. Quite surprising given her and Bill’s involvement in the aviation world for so long!

The First 100 Canadian Women Pilots

 

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