Canadian Aviatrix #83 – Margaret Carson (1917-1993)

Margaret was born on 15 October 1917 in Ottawa, Ontario, to Hugh Little Carson (owner of the Carson luggage company) and Edith Mary Beecham Wood.

I haven’t been able to find the family in the 1921 census, but they would have looked something like this:

Hugh

53

Edith

38

Margaret

3

Eleanor

1

 

On 4 November 1940, Margaret passed her flying test and received her PPL, making her the 83rd female pilot in Canada. She was 23 years old.

Canadian Aviatrix #83 – Margaret Carson (1917-1993) 

Photo: The Windsor Star (August 21, 1951)

During the war, Margaret joined the RCAF as an administration officer. In 1946, Margaret got her commercial licence, as well as her own plane – a Stinson Voyager 150.

Margaret won the 1951 Angel Derby – the third annual all-women international air race, flying 986 miles from Orlando, Florida, to Windsor, Ontario, in eight and a half hours. She received $600 in prize money and split it with her co-pilot.

In 1952, Margaret flew herself and two friends to Mexico for a vacation – a 6,477-mile journey. They touched down at 34 airports en route and met the movie star Gene Tierney, who was in Mexico City to be divorced.

Margaret was one of the co-founders of the Canadian Owners and Pilots Association (COPA). In fact, it was Margaret “storming in” to the Ottawa Flying Club lounge and declaring that “something had to be done about the way small aircraft owners and operators were being mistreated by the government” that started the whole idea. She was the first secretary-treasurer, hosted the group’s “office” in her garage, and complied the first Canadian Flight magazine. In 1957, Margaret was awarded the US Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association Silver Tray Award as the person who “contributed the most to the advancement of private flying in Canada”.

In the 1960s, Margaret owned and operated Ottawa Aero Services – a flight school, charter business, and aviation store. She was also a director of the Carson Luggage company and became President in the early 1970s. In 1976, she and her sister decided to sell their shares.

Margaret retired from COPA’s Board of Directors in the early 1980s and moved to Florida. In 1986, she was the first person to be appointed as an Honorary Director, “in recognition of her dedication and tireless efforts to bring COPA into existence and make it into a vibrant organization”.

Margaret was also an activist for Operation Retriever – a group that traced American prisoners being held in Cuba.

On 21 July 1991, Margaret married Anthony Garnet Bryant (she was 73, he was 53). Tony was a Black Panther, who’d hijacked a plane to Cuba, then been imprisoned there for over a decade.

Margaret died in 1993, aged 75.

The First 100 Canadian Women Pilots 

 

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