Apr 252016

UnknownTracey Curtis-Taylor entered the herstory aviation books alongside great aviators such as 

Baroness de Laroche, (1910) Blanche Stuart Scott (1910) Harriett Qumby (1911) Bessie Coleman (first African American 1921) Amy Johnson 1930) and Jessie Woods helped her barnstormer husband create the Flying Aces, the longest-running of the air circuses. Jessie learned to fly in 1929, walked the wing, parachuted, flew as a stunt pilot, performed gymnastics from a rope ladder, and, at age 81, rode the wing again.ll  Tracey Curtis-Taylor landed inn Sydney, completing her 21,000 km solo fligh from England in a vintage open cockpit 1942  biplane.

Retracing the Route of Amy Johnson

She retraced pioneer Amy Johnson’s 1930 flight, flying over 23 countries and making some 50 refuelling stops.

The 53-year-old pilot has flown across 23 countries, making 50 refuelling stops, since she set off from Farnborough in Hampshire, southern England, in October 2015.

Curtis-Taylor’s route took her across Europe and the Mediterranean to Jordan, over the Arabian desert, across the Gulf of Oman to Pakistan, India and across Asia.

Encountering treacherous weather and navigating the politics of the airways were the toughest parts of the trip, she said.

She said of one leg near Bucharest: “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.”

The highlights far outweighed the frustrations, she said. She rated looking down on Uluru as one of her top six moments, which also included flying across the Dead Sea in formation with an F16 Israeli military pilot. “That was amazing,” she said.

Amy Johnson has been my Heroine

Before starting her flight, 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,” she told Press Association.

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.

She is not unfamiliar with this form of flying. She flew 13,000km solo from Cape Town to the UK in 2013, recreating the 1928 flight of Lady Mary Heath.

Ms Curtis-Taylor – the self-styled “Bird in a Biplane” – also thanked “everyone who supported me”.

Some early reports suggested it was a solo flight – Ms Curtis-Taylor was the only pilot to fly the vintage bi-plane, but she had a support team of engineers travelling with her in a separate aircraft, as well as a camera crew, who would sometimes sit in with her.

“This is old fashioned stick and rudder flying, open cockpit, you get buffeted around – I’ve come through monsoons, thunder storms, turbulence, flying through the Australian outback in 45 degrees of heat.

“We fly seven or eight hours a day because we lost a bit of time in Indonesia trying to get through to Darwin – there were tropical cyclones… you are absolutely up against the elements.”


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