Life Travel Adventurer’s epic flying mission to Sydney

Adventurer’s epic flying mission to Sydney

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After flying solo from England to Australia in a vintage aircraft, Tracey Curtis-Taylor wants a drink and a hairdresser.

The British aviator has touched down in Sydney to cheers and applause, completing the 21,000km journey in her 1942 vintage open cockpit Boeing Stearman Spirit of Artemis.

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Curtis-Taylor flew over Ayers Rock before landing in Sydney. Photo: AAP
Curtis-Taylor flew over Ayers Rock before landing in Sydney. Photo: AAP

“What a relief. It’s the end destination of a huge epic journey which has taken more than you can possible imagine,” she said at Sydney Airport on Saturday.

“I need a drink. And I need a hairdresser.”

The 53-year-old pilot has flown across 23 countries, making some 50 refuelling stops, since she set off from Farnborough, Hampshire, on October 1.

The adventurer’s mission has been to emulate pioneering British aviator Amy Johnson who became the first woman to fly solo from Britain to Australia in 1930.

Ms Curtis-Taylor’s 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.

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

Curtis-Taylor flys over Bagan in Myanmar. Photo: AAP
The adventurer passed through Bagan in Myanmar. Photo: AAP

“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.

But the highlights far outpaced the frustrations.

In Australia, Ms Curtis-Taylor stopped at Darwin, Tennant Creek, Alice Springs and Uluru in the Northern Territory, Oodnadatta in South Australia as well as Broken Hill in New South Wales.

Being mesmerised by Ayers Rock rated in her top six moments, which included flying the Dead Sea in Israel in formation with an F16 Israeli military pilot.

“That was amazing,” she said.

The journey, sponsored by Boeing, coincided with the celebration of its centennial.

The Boeing landed at Sydney International Airport on Saturday. Photo: AAP
The Boeing landed at Sydney International Airport on Saturday. Photo: AAP

“Tracey’s flight is a wonderful reminder of how far aviation has advanced and the role women have played since those early days of flight,” said Maureen Dougherty, president of Boeing Australia and South Pacific.

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,” she told British news agency PA.

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 13,000km solo from Cape Town to Goodwood, West Sussex, to recreate the 1928 flight of Lady Mary Heath.

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