Tracey Curtis-Taylor finishes UK to Australia biplane flight

  • 9 January 2016
  • From the section UK
Media captionTracey Curtis-Taylor wanted to retrace the journey made by Amy Johnson in 1930

A British adventurer has completed an epic 14,600-nautical mile flight from the UK to Australia in a vintage open cockpit bi-plane.

Tracey Curtis-Taylor, 53, set off in her 1942 Boeing Stearman Spirit of Artemis aircraft from Farnborough, Hampshire, in October.

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

After landing in Sydney she tweeted it was the end of a "huge adventure".

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.

'Greatest adventure'

She told BBC Radio 4's Today programme that completing the challenge was a "huge relief" and she described her "euphoria to finally get to Sydney".

"This is the greatest adventure in the world - this is flying through some of the great iconic sites: the Dead Sea, the Arabian desert," she said.

"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."

Speaking to the AFP news agency after her three-month journey, Ms Curtis-Taylor joked that she needed "a drink".

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Tracey Curtis-Taylor arrived in Sydney, completing her 14,600-nautical mile trip

She admitted she had "lost my rag several times dealing with people on the ground" during frequent refuelling stops, but added: "The flying has been sensational and that's why you do it.

"To fly something like this, low level, halfway around the world seeing all the most iconic landscapes, geology, vegetation - it's just the best view in the world."

Flying the open cockpit biplane had given her an "insight" into what Ms Johnson went through getting to Australia, she added.

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

Image caption She flew over 23 countries and made some 50 refuelling stops

Ms Curtis-Taylor attempted to recreate the essence of Ms Johnson's era by flying with an open cockpit, with basic period instruments and a short range between landing points.

On flying, Ms Curtis-Taylor said: "You never want to stop, it is absolutely addictive, it is so thrilling and exciting."

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption She celebrated her arrival at Sydney's International Airport with a glass of Champagne
Image copyright EPA
Image caption She has flown across 23 countries, including Myanmar - formerly known as Burma
Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Ms Curtis-Taylor piloted her bi-plane past Uluru, in central Australia
Image copyright PA
Image caption Amy Johnson was the first woman to fly solo from England to Australia in 1930

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