Monday, November 4, 2013

Aircraft Giant Supports Woman's Solo Biplane Flight between Continents

Historic Journey Re-enacted 85 Years on
Shipping News Feature

SOUTH AFRICA – UK – US – Boeing is not a name one traditionally associates with biplanes yet it is the giant aircraft corporation which has stepped up to support an historic reconstruction of a flight being undertaken in one of its ‘previously enjoyed’ aircraft. On Friday November 2, pilot Tracey Curtis-Taylor took off on a 7,000-mile (11,000-kilometer) solo journey, in a reconditioned Boeing Stearman open-cockpit biplane, to retrace Lady Mary Heath’s historic 1928 flight between South Africa and the United Kingdom.

Lady Mary was the first flyer of either sex to undertake the hazardous journey, travelling in an age where the electronic technology we now take for granted was simply undreamt of. Flying in an open cockpit, exposed to the elements, is not for the faint-hearted, and the flight represents a formidable physical and logistical challenge, in a plane with a top speed of 95 mph, an operating ceiling of 10,000 feet and a range of only 450 miles. But this sort of extreme flying is what Curtis-Taylor, the first female pilot based at the historic Shuttleworth collection of vintage aircraft, has been doing all her life.

Curtis-Taylor, a UK-based pilot plans to land in Goodwood, near London, in December. She is flying a refurbished 1942 Stearman named Spirit of Artemis, after main sponsor Artemis Investments. More than 8,500 Stearmans were built in the United States during the 1930s and 1940s and the airplane became the primary trainer for both the US Air Force and Navy during World War II. Boeing Military Aircraft President Chris Chadwick, commented:

“We hope this journey inspires people along the route to learn more about the remarkable history of aviation and the role Boeing has played in the past, as well as the important role we play in African aviation today.”

For more information and to follow along with the trip, visit the relevant Facebook page here.

Photo: The plane departs for London.