British female pilot’s epic journey from South Africa to UK in vintage Stearman biplane

On Nov. 2 2013 Tracey Curtis-Taylor started her lonely, 6-week long air journey from Cape Town in South Africa to Goodwood, England in a 70 year old Boeing Stearman.

This surely brings back memories of epic long early 20th century long range flights, like Charles Lindbergh‘s journey across the Atlantic or Amelia Earhart’s flight. The feeling of pioneership is even more pronunced by the name of the little plane – Spirit of Artemis.

The plane is a Boeing Stearman produced back in 1942 and refurbished by Ewald Gritsch from 3G Classic Aviation company. The max speed is 150 km/h (circa 95 mph), while the maximum ceiling is 3,050 m. With topped-off fuel tanks and additional fuel tank embedded in the fuselage, the plane may fly for as long as 4.5 h.

The distance to be covered is more than 11,000 km and the trip consists of 32 legs. The flight itself is not just a vague challenge, as it commemorates the stunts of a British female pilot, Mary Heath, who was the first one to fly alone from South Africa to London in an Avro Avian biplane. Then, the trip, that was to take 3 weeks, lasted in fact 4 months – from January till May 1928.

Tracey Curtis-Taylor is a flight instructor with credentials and experience that let her fly vintage aircraft. She is affiliated with Shuttleworth Museum and one may see her fly during the Duxford Flying Legends Air Show.

The journey is not going to be made purely solo, as it involves the second plane with a film crew, that is to create a documentary on the stunt. The movie is to be relased early next year.

Photo credit: Boeing. Map image credit: capetowntogoodwood.com

Jacek Siminski for TheAviationist

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Standing contributor for TheAviationist. Aviation photojournalist. Co-Founder of DefensePhoto.com. Expert in linguistics, Cold War discourse, Cold War history and policy and media communications.