Roberta (Robbie) Taylor was selected as the 2011 recipient of the Elsie MacGill Northern Lights Award. Roberta blazed the trail over 45 years ago when she began her career as a commercial bush pilot in northwestern Ontario. She has been an aircraft operations manager, air search and rescue pilot and fire patrol pilot in the Canadian Rockies, and served as ferry pilot and test pilot for the family aircraft business in Cranbrook, B.C.
Roberta was chosen as Chatelaine’s Woman of the Year, was a co-organizer for the first Canadian Women In Aviation conference, founded the Canadian Rockies Chapter of The Ninety-Nines, Inc. International Organization of Women Pilots, where she served as a Governor and International Director. She speaks at conferences promoting the history of women in aviation through her presentation titled “Lessons from our Mothers”. Having grown up near the Canada Car Foundry in Thunder Bay, Ontario where Elsie MacGill oversaw the wartime production of the Hawker Hurricane and where Roberta’s mother and father worked, Roberta was inspired to be a pioneer in the role of women in aviation.
After injuries sustained as a passenger in a serious car accident ended her flying career, Roberta completed her Master's degree and is now a Senior Instructor in the Faculty of Human and Social Development at the University of Victoria in B.C. Like Elsie MacGill, she transitioned from aviation to working on equity and social issues in a broader context. Roberta is actively engaged in a community project aimed at ensuring a safe operating environment for floatplanes, paddlers and rowers in the busy Port of Victoria. She continues to be a mentor for her peers and students at UVIC.