By Kyle Gennings
TIMMINS – As a helicopter bush pilot, Mary Ellen Pauli has received numerous commendations and awards for her fearless approach to life in and out of the cockpit, creating a brazen place for herself in a legendary old boys club.
The Timmins resident, who has been a pilot for more than 30 years, received another nod from the world of aviation when she received an Elsie MacGill award from the Northern Lights Award Foundation, a not-for-profit group with a mission to recognize outstanding women in aviation and aerospace.
Pauli was one of four women recognized for their contribution to their industry, at an awards gala in Toronto, a world away from the bush camps that she has made a name for herself in.
“This year’s winners have all been working hard to achieve their successes over the years because of their passions for what they do,” Joy Parker Blackwood, vice-president, director of business development and event production for the Northern Lights Award Foundation said in a release. “For this passion, not for the recognition they might receive, this is merely icing, humbly and gratefully accepted.”
It is Pauli’s storied history with the aviation industry in Northern Ontario that earned her the nod, embodying her as a prime example of what can be achieved in the aviation industry.
This award joins a Governor General’s Certificate of Commendation which she was awarded following her actions in August 2004. Flying into heavy winds, rain and sleet, she rescued a father, grandfather and three children trapped on a low-lying island, saving them from a rising tide at the mouth of the Sutton River on Hudson’s Bay.
Last year, Pauli was among the pilots featured in a new Women-in-Aviation exhibit unveiled at the Canadian Bushplane Heritage Centre in Sault Ste. Marie.