First Female Captain Honoured Again

Story and photos by John Chalmers
CAHS Membership Secretary

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On November 5 at the Alberta Aviation Museum in Edmonton, Rosella Bjornson was honoured as the first female airline captain in Canada. A large crowd at the event heard tributes from three levels of government and members of the aviation community. The City of Edmonton proclaimed the day as Rosella Bjornson Day. She was inducted as Member of Canada's Aviation Hall of Fame in 1997, and afterwards carried out work as a volunteer for the Hall for many years.

Wearing her captain's uniform, when Rosella was given the opportunity to respond to the tributes, she had her audience in her hands when she began with a perfect beginning to her enjoyable talk: "Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen, this is your captain speaking!"

Rosella still flies, in the Cessna 170 once owned by her father. She and her husband, Bill Pratt, also a retired airline captain, have five aircraft at their acreage near Edmonton, from where they can taxi to a landing strip. Of the five, in various conditions, only the 170 is operational. Their latest acquisition is a 1960 4-place Cessna 210. Rosella says, "The engine is rebuilt and we are restoring it from the propeller to the tailfeathers, to put in flying condition."

A month earlier, on October 1 at ceremonies held at Vaughan, Ontario, Rosella was honoured by receiving the Pioneer Award of the Elsie MacGill Northern Lights Awards. For information on all award recipients, click here


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At the podium, city councillor Bev Esslinger reads a proclamation declaring the day as Rosella Bjornson Day. Rosella is seated at left, with Kendra Kincade, centre, an organizer of the event who served as M.C.

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Responding to her tributes, Rosella recounted her career as a pilot, the only job she ever wanted. To see a story about Rosella by Neil Taylor, as well as other stories about accomplishments in aviation published for In Formation, from the Alberta Aviation Museum, click here.