Saturday 22 October 2016

Vintage biplane pilot nears final destination on 13,000-mile flight

Published 07/01/2016 | 17:41

Tracey Curtis-Taylor in front of her 1942 Boeing Stearman Spirit of Artemis biplane
Tracey Curtis-Taylor in front of her 1942 Boeing Stearman Spirit of Artemis biplane

A British aviatrix is nearing the final destination in her 13,000-mile solo flight from Britain to Australia in a vintage open cockpit biplane.

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Self-styled "Bird in a Biplane" Tracey Curtis-Taylor, 53, set off in her 1942 Boeing Stearman Spirit of Artemis aircraft from Farnborough, Hampshire, in October.

She has since flown across 23 countries, making some 50 refuelling stops over the course of three months, and has now arrived at RAAF Woomera in Australia.

A message posted on her Facebook page said she is due to arrive at her final destination of Sydney on Saturday. It added: "Today we've made it to RAAF Woomera, fantastic hospitality from Royal Australian Air Force.

"Tomorrow we keep pushing East, only two more days to go! #GBtoOz".

Her team thanked well-wishers for their "incredible support" over the past three months.

Ms Curtis-Taylor has followed in the slipstream of Amy Johnson, the pioneering British aviatrix who became the first woman to fly solo from Britain to Australia in 1930.

Before starting her flight, Ms Curtis-Taylor said in October: "For my whole life, I have been moved by the achievements of pioneers like Amy Johnson.

"My own flight to Australia is the realisation of a burning desire to fly my beloved Boeing Stearman around the world following in their footsteps.

"It has taken 30 years to arrive at this point, and now I not only have the desire to do it but also the resources and a huge network of support behind me.

"I am very, very grateful for this. It feels as if I am finally breaking free of the shackles of life and fulfilling a destiny which was always meant to be."

Her route has taken her across Europe and the Mediterranean to Jordan, over the Arabian desert, across the Gulf of Oman to Pakistan, India and across Asia.

She has recreated the essence of Johnson's era of flying, with an open cockpit, stick and rudder flying with basic period instruments and a short range between landing points.

But she is not unfamiliar with this form of flying. In 2013, she flew 8,000-miles solo from Cape Town to Goodwood, West Sussex, to recreate the 1928 flight of Lady Mary Heath.

Press Association

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