Female bi-plane pilot takes off on 13,000-mile solo flight


An adventurous British aviatrix is embarking on a 13,000-mile solo flight from Britain to Australia in a vintage open cockpit bi-plane.

Self-styled "Bird in a Bi-Plane" Tracey Curtis-Taylor, 53, will set off in her 1942 Boeing Stearman Spirit of Artemis aircraft from Farnborough, Hampshire.

She will fly across 23 countries, making 50 refuelling stops over the next 14 weeks, before finally arriving in Sydney in early 2016.

She will follow in the slipstream of Amy Johnson, the pioneering British aviator who became the first woman to fly solo from Britain to Australia in 1930.

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

She hopes to recreate 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 8,000-miles solo from Cape Town to Goodwood, West Sussex, to recreate the 1928 flight of Lady Mary Heath.

A small support crew will travel in a light modern aircraft to record her journey to Australia, and day to day news will be posted on an interactive website.

Ms Curtis-Taylor said the flight is a "destiny which was always meant to be", and she is looking forward to following in the footsteps of aviators like Johnson.