Muscat: It was a life-changing journey, says British aviator Tracey Curtis-Taylor, after the completion of her epic journey from Britain to Australia.
“The journey has been extraordinary. It has been exhilarating and life-changing,” Tracey told the Times of Oman in an email interview.
“It is the culmination of 30 years of my passion for romantic aviation, and I got to see the wonders of the world with a view of the Gods. It was incredible,” she added.
Tracey completed her journey last Saturday when she flew her open-cockpit biplane across Sydney Harbour and landed at the city's international airport, completing a three-month journey from England, to retrace a pioneering feat of early aviation.
The 53-year-old aviator set out from Farnborough on October 1 to follow the flight path of legendary aviator Amy Johnson, who in 1930 became the first woman to fly solo between Britain and Australia.
She stopped in Oman during her journey and enjoyed the beauty of the Sultanate and its culture.
According to Curtis-Taylor, Oman is the most peaceful and beautiful country in the Arab world, and she described Muscat as being the most beautiful of cities.
“Muscat city’s shape is spectacular. The architecture is the old Arabian style and feels more authentic. To fly down the coasts is awesome. Muscat is greener than the others, because here we can see lot of trees and gardens,” Curtis-Taylor said. “These sights make me want to come here again and again.”
Speaking of her journey,Curtis-Taylorsaid, “I am relieved and exhausted. But I would jump in the plane tomorrow and keep flying, I love it so much. I just feel very honoured and grateful that I had this opportunity to do something so extraordinary.”
In her "Spirit of Artemis", a reconditioned piston-engine biplane, Curtis-Taylor crossed 14,000 miles (22,000 kilometres) and 23 countries, while consuming 8,000 litres of fuel.
During her ambitious journey, she stopped in many countries to explore their particular beauty and cultures.
“I wanted to discover as many countries as I could,so we developed a big outreach programme with Boeing and the GREAT Campaign. But some countries we saw more of than others – India, Myanmar, UAE, Australia were very busy. I met with the British School in Muscat, for example,” recalled Curtis-Taylor.
“The highlight on the ground came just after I passed through Oman – we visited 2,000 girls at a school in Karachi and they were all celebrating Amy Johnson’s life, it was magnificent and brought me to tears,” Curtis-Tayloradded.
Particularly memorable places for her during this journey were Thailand and the Arabian Desert. But she described flying across the Dead Sea as beingspectacular.
“The Dead Sea stands out for me, flying over Jerusalem at 200 ft, then dropping down to 1,200 ft below sea level onto the Dead Sea was breathtaking,” she said.
According to Curtis-Taylor, weather is also a major challenge, as she had to stop in many places because of bad weather.
“Other than the weather, which is always a challenge when flying an open cockpit in an antique aircraft, the biggest difficulty is the security levels around the world, especially at airports. It means we spend a lot of time managing process, approvals and permissions, which takes hours, and it all costs a lot, too,” Curtis-Taylorsaid.
“When Amy flew across the world there was no air traffic, no authorities, no paperwork – she just took off and flew in the direction she wanted to go. Beautiful freedom,” Curtis-Taylornoted.
Speaking about what motivated her to travel, Curtis-Taylor said, “I have been passionate about vintage aircraft and open cockpit flying all my life. After I flew across Africa, it felt right to celebrate the monumental achievement of Amy Johnson in 1930. And Amy’s story is such an inspiration to me that I wanted to share it with a new generation. I think it still has relevance in this era with young ladies.”
Curtis-Taylorhad to prepare for 18 months for her journey.
Now Curtis-Tayloris planning to cross the United States to celebrate Boeing’s 100th anniversary in May. She will start from Seattle and finish in Boston, taking in cities and landmarks, such as the Grand Canyon, Chicago, St Louis and New York.