In May of 1928 Mary Heath made history as the first female pilot to fly solo from Cape Town South Africa to Goodwood England in an open cockpit biplane. Using nothing but a compass, map and her wits to guide her she battled storms, fog and the critics that said she couldn’t do it to complete the epic journey. Her flight was a great step forward not only for the aviation industry but for pioneering people everywhere.
Today another pilot pioneer is recreating Heath’s historic journey by flying the same route from Cape town to Goodwood in a replica biplane similar to the one used by Heath. Tracey Curtis-Taylor is an accomplished flyer having completed her private flying license in New Zealand and then completing her commercial and instructor ratings. When asked about the plane she will be flying during her historical flight she commented, “It’s a little bit bigger and more stable than the one Lady Heath flew but very much in the spirit – all stick and rudder stuff.”
With a top speed of 95 mph and a maximum altitude of 10,000 feet the replica Biplane being used by Curtis-Taylor will not make for a smooth ride. She will also have to stop 23 times during her journey for fuel and will spend nearly six weeks in the air to reach her destination.
Nor will the journey be comfortable. She will have to battle storms, high winds and freezing conditions in her open cockpit just to keep the plane in the air. She will also have to run the ever present risk of mechanic breakdown.
Unlike Heath’s flight everything Curtis-Taylor does will be documented with cameras and she will be followed by a film crew in a chase plane to capture this great undertaking.
Despite the dangers and the off putting presence of the film crew, Curtis-Taylor is confident “I want this flight to flag up her [Heaths] achievements and put her name back in the public’s consciousness.”
Curtis-Taylor is one week into her flight check out http://www.capetowntogoodwood.com/1/post/2013/11/thwarted-departure.html#comments for the live blog!