After listening to Dini Petty speak with passion about the aviation film Boundless and Kate Campbell who directed it, I asked if she could arrange an interview. I knew there was a story in it for our Spencer readers and was excited when the answer came back as yes.
Rose Marie Bresolin: So, Kate, thank you for agreeing to the interview. And Dini, welcome back. Dini, as a woman who was born near the end of WWII with planes thundering overhead as they bombed London, your reaction to such a fearsome experience could have taken you either way; either you’d be drawn to flying or cringe at the thought of airplanes. Thankfully for us, it went in favor of your choosing to fly.
Dini, I’d like to put a few questions about Boundless to Kate first and then have you take us into your experience of the filming.
Kate, Boundless is described as a historical fiction, a narrative that was inspired by your grandmother, Betty Grepley. And while a pilot, she herself was not in the war. She’s deceased now, but her impact lives on in you, and now through this film, she stands to impact much more widely. That must bring you a great degree of satisfaction. Tell us a little bit about this special someone you refer to as your best friend.
Kate: It does bring me satisfaction. It’s been a fairly long journey and obviously my grandmother was an incredible woman who still inspires me. This project is a love letter to her and what she represented to me. I don’t know where I would be without her. I grew up hearing her stories about
flying and watching her interact with male pilots as they compared notes and it was in one of her stories that I first heard about Dini. My grandmother got her license in the 50’s and Dini got hers in the late 60’s and they both flew out of Buttonville airport in Ontario, Canada.
Such a vivid image, thank you. Given that much of the information you were seeking was buried for so long, what level of cooperation did you receive in the developing stages of the film?
Kate: A lot of help actually. I began with the First Canadian Chapter of the Ninety-Nines in Toronto, Canada where my grandmother was a member. The more research I did, the more women pilots I found and then I discovered the Women Airforce Service Pilots known as WASP, and I was astounded that no one knew their story. Then I moved to Los Angeles and eventually began interviewing women pilots in California, Seattle and Texas. I discovered that the Women Airforce Service Pilots held an annual homecoming every year on Memorial Day weekend in Sweetwater, Texas where they originally trained. I started going every year, filming the surviving women and some of the planes they flew. Originally, I wanted someone else to write the story and I approached the only three writers I knew. They were all men and fortunately they all said no.