Aviator flies 21,000km solo in open-cockpit biplane

January 10, 2016 12:00 pm

 Tracey Curtis-Taylor during her journey by biplane from the United Kingdom to Sydney. Photo / Facebook

A British aviator who completed a 21,000km solo flight in a vintage open-cockpit biplane says her next stop is New Zealand.
Tracey Curtis-Taylor, 52, landed in Sydney yesterday after her epic world trip.
She
flew across 23 countries and made 50 refuel stops after setting off
from Farnborough in Hampshire, South of England in October.
“I need a drink. And I need a hairdresser,” Ms Curtis-Taylor told The Guardian as she climbed out of her 1942 Boeing Stearman, Spirit of Artemis at Sydney airport.
The Guardian
reported that Ms Curtis-Taylor’s goal was to emulate the pioneering
British aviator Amy Johnson, who became the first woman to fly solo from
Britain to Australia in 1930.
She travelled across Europe and
the Mediterranean to Jordan, over the Arabian desert, across the Gulf of
Oman to Pakistan, India and across Asia before landing in Australia.

She said treacherous weather and navigating international airways were the most challenging parts of the journey.
“Flying
in heavy rain, low cloud on the deck . that was a death trap that
killed a lot of the airline pilots. So I turned around and went back,”
she said of one leg near Bucharest.
Before she embarked on her trip she explained why it had been a long time goal.
“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,” she said.
Ms Curtis-Taylor flew the entire route with an open cockpit, flying basic period instruments over short periods.
It
is not her first foray into recreating historical flights. In 2013 she
flew 13,000km solo from Cape Town to the UK recreating the 1928 flight
of Lady Mary Heath.
The Londoner said highlights of her journey
included flying over the Arabian desert, the mountains of Burma and the
coastline of Thailand.
“It blew me away, I feel I have been
privileged to have experienced this but I haven’t had the time to
process it yet. I would like to sit down with a large drink and rest and
reflect on what I have gone through. It’s been an astonishing
experience – heaven and hell.”
Yesterday she told reporters at
Sydney airport: “What I would really like to do is get back in the
airplane and fly up the east coast of Australia. I wish I could keep
going, I never want to land as the experience is so profound, it’s
addictive.
“I am still in expedition mode, but I need to relax and decompress.”
Ms Curtis-Taylor will head for New Zealand next, to celebrate her mother’s 80th birthday.
She then planned to travel to Seattle for a coast-to-coast expedition across the US.
“Why not keep going? Life should be about big projects,” she said.

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