United Kingdom to Australia in an Open Cockpit Biplane
Tracey Curtis-Taylor starts 13,000 mile journey from Farnborough
01 October 2015 - Tracey Curtis-Taylor today departed Farnborough Airport in her classic 1942 Boeing Stearman Spirit of Artemis heading for Sydney, Australia . The intrepid British aviator’s expedition will include 50 legs as she crosses 23 countries on her trip across the globe. Her first day flying will see her stop in Le Touquet, France (120 nautical miles), before continuing on to Charleville in the Ardennes (a further 124 nm).
Tracey is undertaking the flight to celebrate the pioneering days of early aviation in the 1920s and 1930s, and especially the achievements of revolutionary British aviator Amy Johnson. A celebrity of her day, Ms Johnson became the first woman to fly solo from the UK to Australia in 1930 and tragically died in mysterious circumstances during World War II whilst flying for the ATA (Air Transport Auxiliary).
Having flown across Africa in 2013, experienced pilot Ms Curtis-Taylor is no stranger to stick and rudder flying with basic period instruments in some of the most beautiful, challenging and dangerous places on the planet.
Speaking prior to departing Farnborough, Tracey Curtis-Taylor said, "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."
A group of over 150 friends and supports gathered to bid Tracey farewell, including HRH Prince Michael of Kent, Dame Diana Rigg, Amy Johnson’s niece Judy Chilvers and Rear Admiral Ben Kay (Royal Navy). She was also joined by a number of her partners, including personnel from Global Sponsors Boeing and Artemis Investment Management, as well as representatives from ExecuJet, GIC Re, the GREAT Campaign, Singapore Airlines, the Taj Hotels Resorts & Palaces, Pol Roger, Inmarsat, LiveWire and Cobham SatCom. Tracey will be flying to support the Royal Navy and Royal Marines Charity on her flight to Australia.
Speaking as her friend took off, Dame Diana Rigg said, “Tracey is doing this in the spirit of all those lady aviators of the past and that is what I love about her, that quality of recognising the endeavour of what has gone before and mirroring it in this era. There are lots of people doing extraordinary things, but Tracey is doing something extraordinary in what is virtually a man’s world and I think we have to stress that. Her knowledge of not just the plane but the engine is extensive and she can hold her own with any man.”
During the flight, Tracey Curtis-Taylor will be stopping in a number of cities to engage with the local communities, with a particular focus on women’s issues. Commemorating the fact that Amy Johnson was the first President of the Women’s Engineering Society, Ms Curtis-Taylor will be working with her partners to promote the achievements of women in every sphere around the world, especially their historic and contemporary role in aviation and engineering. The first major stop will be Istanbul. The historic city not only marks the moment Tracey will leave Europe, but Tracey will be learning more about the life of Sabiha Gocken, who was the first Turkish female combat pilot aged just 23. She was one of the eight adopted children of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the founding father of the Turkish state.
Tracey is expected to arrive in Sydney on January 6th.
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To follow Tracey during the flight and learn more about her route, please visit:
Twitter: @biplanebird #GBtoOz