The British adventurer Tracey Curtis-Taylor has completed her flight from Britain to Australia in an open-cockpit 1942 Boeing Stearman biplane.
Landing in Sydney today after the final leg of her three-month, 13,000 mile (21,000km) journey, Ms Curtis-Taylor joked that she “needed a drink”, having contended with some terrible flying conditions and logistical headaches.
The journey was modelled on that of Amy Johnson, the aviation pioneer who made a solo flight from England to Australia in 1930, and Ms Curtis-Taylor said hers was in homage to female pilots of the past.
Ms Johnson, the British “aviatrix”, was the first woman to make the journey solo and did it in a De Havilland Gypsy Moth – the journey took less than three weeks because of her plane’s improved range.
“The flying has been sensational and that’s why you do it,” said Ms Curtis-Taylor. “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. It’s the best adventure in the world.”
Maureen Dougherty, president of Boeing Australia and South Pacific, which sponsored the adventure, said: “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. Congratulations to Tracey and her support team on this remarkable achievement.”
Ms Curtis-Taylor took off from Farnborough on October 1 and flew over Europe, the Middle East and Asia, stopping in Vienna, Istanbul and Amman, to Pakistan and India, Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia.
Although she did hit bad weather, most notably over eastern Europe, many of her problems were not related to flying, because the plane’s short range meant that she had to land frequently and in a variety of countries.
“I’ve lost my rag several times dealing with people on the ground,” she said, adding that it had taken seven hours to get fuel at one airport alone. “In the end I just lay down on the tarmac and went to sleep with my head on my handbag.”
It would be easy to forgive a reluctance to return to the cockpit, but Ms Curtis-Taylor, 53, said that she would have loved to continue her journey up Australia’s east coast. But the plane is due to be shipped to the United States.