British pilot and speaker Tracey Curtis-Taylor is flying her 1942 Boeing Stearman biplane from England to Australia to honor aviation pioneer Amy Johnson, who made a similar flight in 1930. Curtis-Taylor won’t retrace Johnson’s 1930 route, which went through Iraq and Syria. She expects to spend three to four months on the journey, which started October 1 from Farnborough, England. Johnson made her flight in 20 days to set a record.
Curtis-Taylor’s first leg took her 262 statute miles from Farnborough, England, to Charleville, France, where she wrote on her Facebook page that her airplane Spirit of Artemis, named after the financial company that sponsors her, was tied down in a hayfield. While the original route in 1930 was a straight, 9,500-statute-mile line, Curtis-Taylor’s route will be 13,000 miles to Sydney, Australia.
Curtis-Taylor previously flew from Cape Town, South Africa, to England. She is also using the Australia segment to complete a world tour. After reaching Australia early next year, her airplane will be shipped to the United States and flown across the country to finish the world flight.
She has a support and film crew in a modern aircraft traveling with her. A documentary will be made for broadcast at a later time. The airplane was restored by 3G Classic Aviation in Hungary in 2012 and 2013, and was fitted with extra fuel tanks for its 300-horsepower Lycoming 680 radial engine. She said she used the word “spirit” in naming the airplane in memory of Charles Lindbergh’s airplane, the Spirit of St. Louis, and to honor the female figure used as a hood ornament on the Rolls-Royce, the Spirit of Ecstasy—also known in the United States as The Flying Lady and therefore, a pilot.
Raised in Canada, Curtis-Taylor has lived in England, where she trained as a diamond valuer and diplomat; in South Africa; and in New Zealand, where she learned to fly World War II airplanes with the New Zealand Warbird Association. She also has worked in aerial photography and mapping. She has as strong of an interest in antique cars as she does in airplanes.