British aviator and adventurer Tracey Curtis-Taylor has landed in Sydney after making an epic 21,000km solo flight on a vintage open cockpit biplane from England. She landed her 1942 Boeing Stearman Spirit of Artemis at Sydney airport on 9 January, three months after taking off from Farnborough in Hampshire.
The self-styled "Bird in a Biplane" had sought to mimic the journey of British aviator Amy Johnson, who was the first woman to fly solo from the UK to Australia in 1930.
The journey took her over 23 countries in Europe, the Middle East and Asia, including Turkey, Jordan, Pakistan, India, Myanmar and Indonesia. Curtis-Taylor used period instruments and flew with an open cockpit in an attempt to recreate the conditions faced by Johnson on her pioneering flight. She was forced to make some 50 refuelling stops en route due to the short range of the vintage plane.
Curtis-Taylor said the landing at Sydney marked the end of a "huge adventure" and thanked all who supported her. "I need a drink," she joked in an interview with the AFP news agency shortly after completing her arduous voyage.
"The flying has been sensational and that's why you do it. To fly something like this, low level, halfway around the world seeing all the most iconic landscapes, geology, vegetation... it's just the best view in the world."
Some of the biggest obstacles the 53-year-old faced in her journey were on the ground rather than the air – she claimed to have waited seven hours for fuel at one airport.
"I've lost my rag several times dealing with people on the ground," the aviator said. "In the end I just lay down on the tarmac and went to sleep with my head on my handbag."
The 1942 Boeing aircraft is to be shipped to the US and flown across North America to complete its global flight later in the year.