On the last day of 2013 Tracey Curtis-Taylor touched down at Goodwood Aerodrome in West Sussex at the end of a remarkable 9825 mile flight from Cape Town, South Africa. That morning’s leg from France saw Tracey crossing the Channel in very bad weather at just 500 feet, touching down at Goodwood in wind and rain to be greeted by friends and the media.
In 1928, Mary Heath – the first woman to hold a commercial flying licence in Britain – made front page news around the world as the first pilot, male or female, to fly solo a small, open-cockpit biplane from Cape Town to Britain. As reported previously – Press Launch – Tracey’s commemorative expedition departed Cape Town as planned on 2 November using her 1942 vintage Boeing Stearman N56200 named Spirit of Artemis, and recently reconditioned and prepared for the flight by Ewald Gritsch of 3G Classic Aviation in Austria.
A number of delays due to weather and local authority issues meant that Tracey’s arrival back in the UK slipped frequently, with long delays in Eastern Europe foiling her chances of being home by Christmas.
The journey was covered and supported by Nylon Films for a future documentary, with N56200 carrying a number of GoPro cameras. Tracey stated that she is contemplating further similar adventures, after she’s enjoyed a much deserved hot bath!
Update: Nylon Films have released a trailer for the film http://vimeo.com/87185706
In November this year Tracey Curtis-Taylor will fly her Boeing Stearman ‘Spirit of Artemis’ from Cape Town to Goodwood to commemorate a similar flight by early ‘aviatrix’ Lady Mary Heath in 1928, the first pilot to successfully make that 7000 mile trip, but which finished in London.
To help promote the venture a photocall was held around Tracey’s Stearman on the Friday of the Goodwood Revival, involving Lord March and the five months pregnant Zara Phillips. Zara, 32, is the Queen’s grand-daughter, and not surprisingly drew much media attention, along with husband Mike Tindall.
I later caught up with Tracey when wearing an outfit in keeping with the Revival’s vintage theme, away from the crowds:
‘Spirit of Artemis’ was containerised and shipped to Cape Town, arriving in the last last few days.
Held in aid of the Thames Valley & Chiltern Air Ambulance Trust the volunteer-run Abingdon show provided a fun day out for the family and enthusiast alike, and benefited from some better weather than has been the case for many shows over recent years. Here are some highlights:
Will Hilton and the SWIP Twister in which he would make his public display debut later in the day.
Five years ago Will, now 19, was an Air Cadet at the show directing cars. The youngster approached Twister pilot Pete Wells at that show and told him that it was his ambition to become a display pilot. With the help of Pete, Alan Cassidy and his own determination he has turned that ambition into reality.
Rod Dean made his 2013 display debut at Abingdon in Bulldog XX543, having retired from displaying warbirds and classic jets.
Peter Vacher’s Mk1 Hurricane was a star of the warbird content:
The Breitling Wingwalkers team made their 2013 UK show debut at the Abingdon Air & Country Show having returned from their tour to Australia.
Aces High’s Dakota:
The above is but a small snapshot of the events in the air, with many more on the ground. The small team led by Neil Porter deserve much praise for their extreme efforts in bringing the show together each year. Look out for it in 2014.