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Tracey Curtis-Taylor, Aviator

Bird in a Biplane

Tracey wants her flights to inspire young women around the world to follow their dreams, never give up and break boundaries, and ultimately enhance the role of women in aviation and engineering.

Raised in Canada and surrounded by magnificent scenery, Tracey naturally took to adventure, so it was no surprise to her parents when she developed a passion for flight, having her first flying lesson aged 16.

She returned to England with her family in the 70’s and her early working career in London including training with de Beers as a diamond valuer and the Diplomatic Service at the Foreign Office in Whitehall.

But the ‘call of the wild’ and an ongoing fascination with Africa made Tracey cut the rope on her conventional life in England. She went to South Africa in 1982 where she worked for several months before returning to the UK overland in a Bedford truck – a journey that took five months camping through savannah, jungle and desert.

Shortly after her return Tracey migrated to New Zealand and began flying in earnest. She gained her private pilot’s licence, commercial licence and an instructor rating and, unusual for a woman, was trained by military pilots to fly World War II aeroplanes with the New Zealand Warbird Association.

Tracy Curtis Taylor Dubai Airshow 4

In tandem with her love of flying, an interest in geology, landscape and imagery led to Tracey pursuing another career in aerial photography and mapping, which was to hold her in good stead for her future flying pursuits.

Tracey honours the pioneering days of aviation in the 1920s and 1930s, and after 30 years of flying classic planes this led her to fly a restored 1942 Boeing Stearman 10,000 miles from Cape Town to Goodwood in 2013 to commemorate the achievement of Lady Mary Heath in 1928, who was the first person to fly the route solo.

She then decided to pay homage the life of Amy Johnson by retracing her 1930 flight from Great Britain to Australia. Tracey departed Farnborough in October 2015 and arrived in Sydney three months later after flying 14,600 miles through 23 countries.

2016 saw Tracey set off to fly 5,000 miles retracing the historic air mail routes across the USA from Seattle to Boston to celebrate the Centenary of Boeing, but the flight was cut short following a crash landing in Arizona in mid-May. Tracey wants her flights to inspire young women around the world to follow their dreams, never give up and break boundaries, and ultimately enhance the role of women in aviation and engineering.

Always adventurous, she is also passionate about other forms of early pioneering transport and in particular, old cars. As a result, she took part in the 2007 centenary Peking to Paris classic car rally that re-traced the route first driven by Prince Borghese in 1907. This involved driving for six weeks through northern China, the Gobi Desert, across Russia to the Baltic and on to Paris – an epic experience that combined great adventure with rugged endurance.

When not flying, her other interests include gemmology and geography (she is a Fellow of the British Gemmological Association and the Royal Geographical Society). She is also a keen oil painter.

Find out more about Tracy’s transatlantic flight at www.birdinabiplane.com

 

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