It’s not everyday that you have a woman aviator flying an open-cockpit vintage biplane from the UK to Australia. But, then, November 24 wasn’t just any other day.
British female aviator, Tracey Curtis-Taylor landed at the Hindan Air Force Base near Delhi in her 1942 Boeing Stearman. The Capital is one of the 50 stopovers in her unique flight from the UK, and en route to the island continent. This is part of Curtis-Taylor’s endeavour to celebrate the pioneering days of early aviation in the 1920s and 1930s, and especially the achievements of revolutionary British aviator Amy Johnson. A celebrity of her day, Johnson is the first woman to fly solo from Britain to Australia in 1930.
Speaking on arrival in New Delhi, Curtis-Taylor said, “For my whole life, I have been moved by the achievements of pioneers like Amy Johnson. My own flight to Australia is the realization of a burning desire to fly my beloved Boeing Stearman Spirit of Artemis around the world following in their footsteps.”
She said she was delighted to arrive in Delhi and the flight had already exceeded her expectations. “From nasty European weather delaying us across Romania to the beauty of flying at 100 feet over the desert, and vibrant cities of India, every moment is an extraordinary experience,” added the aviator who has already flown from Cape Town to Goodwood (bottom to top of the African continent) in 2013.
Pratyush Kumar, president for Boeing India said, “We are proud to welcome Tracey Curtis-Taylor to India. Tracey’s flight in the 1942 Boeing Stearman will reach Australia in early 2016, a year in which we will celebrate our centennial and our own onward journey of achievement into Boeing’s second century of aviation”.
This is a unique moment where one of the oldest and one of the newest Boeing aircraft are together at the same base. “Tracy’s visit to Hindan also highlights the long relationship that Boeing shares with the Indian Air Force, which began when the Harvard Trainer was used to train pilots,” said Dennis Swanson, vice-president, Boeing Defense, Space and Security, India.
During her flight to Australia, Curtis-Taylor will stop at a number of cities to engage with local communities, with a particular focus on women and women aviators. Commemorating the fact that Amy Johnson was the first president of the Women’s Engineering Society, she will promote the achievements by women in every sphere around the world, especially their historic and contemporary role in aviation and engineering. In Delhi, Tracy will interact with women officers and aviators of the Indian Air Force at Hindan Air Force Base. She will also conduct a fly-past in the vintage Stearman aeroplane.