HULL may benefit from the success of a British flyer who touched down in Sydney at the end of a 13,000-mile solo flight from Britain to Australia in a vintage open cockpit biplane, a historian claims.
Dr Alec Gill said the tremendous success of self-styled “Bird in a Biplane” Tracey Curtis-Taylor, 53, may reflect glory on Hull, home city of Amy Johnson who completed a similar journey in 1930.
Dr Gill, a local historian and author of books about Johnson, said: “Tracey has done tremendously well. Hopefully, it will be good for Hull. Certainly, Tracey keeps mentioning Amy Johnson whenever she is interviewed.”
Self-styled “Bird in a Biplane” Ms Curtis-Taylor set off in her 1942 Boeing Stearman Spirit of Artemis aircraft from Farnborough, Hampshire, in October.
She flew across 23 countries, making 50 refuelling stops over the course of three months, and has now arrived at Sydney Airport.
She posted on Facebook: “Finished Sydney Airport! End of huge adventure, thank you everyone who supported me.”
Ms Curtis-Taylor has followed in the slipstream of Johnson, the pioneering British aviatrix who became the first woman to fly solo from Britain to Australia in 1930 in a Tiger Moth.
Ms Curtis-Taylor said: “I’m tired, it’s been a pretty intense week with all the build-up to the final arrival, I’m relieved, euphoric, it’s great to be here.”
She said Johnson had been a great inspiration to her throughout the journey: “You can’t do this without a great sense of empathy and sympathy for what she went through, what she achieved is so brilliant.
“I just take my hat off to what she pushed herself to, right on the limits of endurance. She was on the verge of nervous exhaustion when she finished, it’s an astonishing survival story, all done by a slip of a girl at the age of 26 with little flying experience.
“This generation needs to know what the pioneers achieved and how they resolved to break the records.”
Ms Curtis-Taylor, from Stamford, Lincolnshire, but who grew up in Cumbria and now lives in London, said the highlights of her journey included flying over the Dead Sea, the deserts of Arabia, the mountains of Burma and the coastline of Thailand.
She said: “It blew me away, I feel I have been privileged to have experienced this but I haven’t had the time to process it yet. I would like to sit down with a large drink and rest and reflect on what I have gone through. It’s been an astonishing experience - heaven and hell.”
Ms Curtis-Taylor said that despite having just completed the exhausting trip, she still had the drive to make further expeditions.
She said: “What I would really like to do is get back in the airplane and fly up the east coast of Australia. I wish I could keep going, I never want to land as the experience is so profound, it’s addictive. I am still in expedition mode but I need to relax and decompress.”
She said she would travel to New Zealand to celebrate her mother’s 80th birthday before joining the Artemis in Seattle, USA, for an expedition from coast to coast of America.
Her 13,000-mile route took her across Europe and the Mediterranean to Jordan, over the Arabian desert, across the Gulf of Oman to Pakistan, India and across Asia.
She recreated 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. In 2013, she flew 8,000 miles solo from South Africa, to Sussex, to recreate the 1928 flight of Lady Mary Heath.
Maureen Dougherty, president of Boeing Australia and South Pacific, which sponsored the adventure, said: “Tracey’s flight is a wonderful reminder of how far aviation has advanced.”