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-   -   Tracey Curtis-Taylor (Merged threads) (https://www.pprune.org/private-flying/579030-tracey-curtis-taylor-merged-threads.html)

highcirrus 28th Oct 2016 23:35

Hmm. The ongoing saga takes another byzantine twist with the revelations that Tracy C-T and Robert Marshall are/were apparently “an item” and were co-directors of Bird-in-a-Plane Limited for a two year period. Fascinating.

Right Hand Thread 28th Oct 2016 23:54

TCT/Marshall is very old news and was mentioned way back in this thread I believe.

An enquiring mind might want to know why she was.......why she left Old Warden. Y'know, that place where she wasn't a display pilot.

SATCOS WHIPPING BOY 29th Oct 2016 00:27

Agreed RHT, it is old news. I don't advocate digging into anyone's personal background.
The focus should be on her fanciful aviation claims, her demonstrated lack of airmanship, her disregard of rules and her questionable career embellishments.
What she does in her private life should remain that - private.

Mike Flynn 29th Oct 2016 03:29

I hear from sources that a female journalist is writing a story shortly due to appear in the Times or Sunday Times.

It appears to focus on Tracey claiming she never told anyone her flights were solo...
It will also place some emphasis on her "outreach" programme.

Perhaps she had not gone back throught all the press cuttings.

Katie Archer,Telegraph Group Compliance Officer recently defended one of the papers
journalists for stating TCT had said she was solo.

The article, written by Nicola Harley, was:
Female pilot starts epic solo flight to copy Amy Johnson
Part way down the page we see a body of text in quotation marks and attributed to the pilot Tracey Curtis-Taylor.
"When I was younger I was told by the military that I couldn't join because I'm a woman, and now look at me - I'm flying to the other side of the world on my own."
Tracey Curtis-Taylor

Thank you for your recent communication to The Telegraph.
Further to your enquiry, I have liaised with the journalist who has confirmed that they are the exact quotes.

Yours sincerely,

Katie Archer
Editorial Compliance Executive

Telegraph Media Group
Can someone raise this story with Katie?

Tracey Curtis-Taylor: from Cape Town to Cairo in a Forties biplane
On New Year’s Eve, aviator Tracey Curtis-Taylor landed after an epic 9,000-mile solo journey, inspired by the glamorous adventurer Mary Heath’s pioneering flight in 1928

By Claire Cohen7:00AM GMT 11 Jan 2014
I’m not entirely sure what to expect of a pilot who’s just landed in the middle of a waterlogged West Sussex airfield having flown halfway across the world in a Forties biplane, Spirit of Artemis. But Tracey Curtis-Taylor is unfazed.
“It was horrific,” she cries cheerfully, as she leaps from the open cockpit in the pouring rain. She is derring-do personified: “Basically, we overlooked the fact I’d have to cross the entire continent of Europe in winter. I thought I was going to die in a French airfield.”
After eight weeks and 9,825 miles, Curtis-Taylor, 51, British-born but raised in Canada, has completed her epic adventure: a re-creation of Lady Heath’s 1928 record-breaking flight from Cape Town to Cairo. The route took her through Zimbabwe, Zambia, Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, Sudan and Egypt – before finally touching down at Goodwood in West Sussex.

Claire wrote that story as if she was there. However despite the headline she missed the fact there were two people on board.


The story also contains this line.

Curtis-Taylor is a professional aviator...
Impossible on a private pilots licence or am I missing something?

clareprop 29th Oct 2016 05:32

Jay Sata

I guess she wrote this before the video surfaced.

Bird in a Biplane swoops on claims she didn?t fly solo | News | The Times & The Sunday Times

She has been accused of lying about being the sole pilot on her flight from Cape Town to Goodwood, amid false rumours that her male engineer was her secret co-pilot. “Amy Johnson, she ain’t,” declared the headlines.

Ms Curtis-Taylor, 54, said she was stunned that, 75 years after Johnson’s death, she has had to defend herself against the old trope that behind her own considerable achievements, there must have been a man.

“They’ll have me flying a handbag before I’m finished — or a broomstick. They are spiteful, envious, armchair critics. I flew the plane. I was in command. No one else. To suggest I have hoodwinked the public, deceived all my sponsors, the media, everyone, is just disgraceful. How do I even do that in an open cockpit? It goes against all natural justice.”

Ms Curtis-Taylor said she wanted to honour the achievements of Amy Johnson, the famous aviator
Not only would her male passenger have been sitting in the wrong cockpit to fly such a vintage aircraft, it can now be revealed that the main source of the claims was her former logistics manager, Sam Rutherford, an ex-Sandhurst officer who was asked to leave the expedition after falling out with the crew.

Part of the reason she suspects Mr Rutherford of waging a campaign against her is that she forbade him from flying her plane, a restored 1940s Boeing Stearman, because he didn’t have enough experience. “I never let him near it, and he hated that,” Ms Curtis-Taylor said. She added that the accusations, and slurs on social media, come from “a very small handful of people”.

She admits she could have done more to correct misleading reports that made liberal use of the phrase “flying solo”.

“I wish we’d sorted that misreporting out but I can’t do everything all of the time,” she said.

Asked if the critics had tarnished the success of the trip, she said: “They have Shanghaied it. It’s horrible and vicious. These people do not wish me well. In the golden era of aviation, it was the girls who stole the show.

“Their toughness, their stamina, is incredible to me. Now I’m living through some of the criticism and sexism they were up against. That was the one bit of their story we’d hoped to omit.”

Even after flying around the world in her fifties, she said she had to laugh when she was described in one report as a “former waitress from Canada. I just love that. When Amy Johnson flew to Australia, you know what she was dubbed as? The typist from Hull. Here we go again.”

Her celebrated journey, retracing the record-breaking flight of Mary Heath, the first person of any gender to fly solo from Cape Town to Cairo, was the subject of a BBC4 documentary, The Lady Who Flew Africa: The Aviatrix.

The pilot said the criticism she received was “horrible and vicious”
She was supported by a camera crew in a light modern aircraft, and made well-publicised stops to pick up various passengers, including historians, conservationists and sponsors. She did the same on her next trip, following the famous flight path of Amy Johnson, who became the first woman to fly solo from the UK to Sydney in 1930. This time, the passengers included Prince Nikolaos of Greece and Denmark and Princess Reema bint Bandar al-Saud of Saudi Arabia.

She estimates she was alone in the aircraft for about 10 per cent of the time, with guest passengers for 20 per cent and with Ewald Gritsch, her Austrian engineer, for the rest.

“When we’re filming, flying low over places like the Bagan temples in Burma, it was Ewald’s job to look out for hazards, wires, cables, cell towers, temples. I was the one flying the plane.”

Mr Rutherford claims that basic instrumentation in the front cockpit means it is theoretically possible for Ms Curtis-Taylor to have passed the controls to Mr Gritsch for parts of the journey, although he admitted he had no evidence this happened.

He told The Times: “Clearly I wasn’t in either of these cockpits, it’s a bit like asking what goes on in a room, where no one can see. But hours and hours in any aircraft, let alone an old one, is hard work. It’s very difficult. If you have an experienced passenger, who can take the controls, why wouldn’t you? There’s certainly an element of if it quacks like a duck, walks like a duck . . .”

Mr Rutherford insisted that he did not leave the expedition early. He denied being motivated by sexism or jealousy.

Mr Gritsch dismissed the claims as “absolute nonsense. People are talking about things they don’t understand. You can’t start the engine in the front. All the flying is done by the pilot in the rear, as is normal in vintage aircraft. It’s quite simple — Tracey did all the flying, and all the organisation. She was the leader. Without her, the flight wouldn’t have happened. People are just assuming a female is not as capable as a man. That’s very sad.”

He added: “If I wanted to fly a vintage aeroplane, I have five at home.”
For anyone new reading this and thinking she has been hard done by. TCT first claimed she flew solo, then, when she was called out on that by Sam Rutherford, she said she said that she never claimed she flew solo but actually flew 'sole'. Now she is blaming the media for saying she flew solo when she didn't. Maybe the clip underneath is why the media and the rest of us are so confused...:


She's no Lady Mary Heath or Amy Johnson. As she describes herself, she's 'just a Bird in a Biplane'. And with that, I'm not going to spend any more time following her twisted story.

wiggy 29th Oct 2016 05:45

Interesting photo at the start of the piece, which was a remarkably poor choice given the presumed thrust of the article...are there no stock photos of TCT actually alone in the aircraft?..Of course the untruths and muddying of the water starts immediately, with the caption.

Tracey Curtis-Taylor in her 1940s Boeing Stearman. As with other vintage aircraft all of the flying is done by the pilot in the rear
yep,........the chap in the front seat in the photograph, was only ever a crewmember...

as for the the snippet of text...."sexism"..who would have thought she would have claimed that....last resort for some when they end up under pressure and on the back foot.

Edit to add: clareprop , thanks for the full text.

pilotmike 29th Oct 2016 07:22

Here's some of the background chat between the overzealous Wiki editors who like to censor out anything that doesn't make Ms C-T look like a shining star. In their ignorance, they are very dismissive and rude about pilots on this forum discussing subjects which we are knowledgeable about, but at least they finally begin to admit that they have been seriously misled by their favourite source of 'facts' - the British press!

Hi HbH, Thanks for your edits to the article on Tracey Curtis-Taylor. Unfortunately the article is a battleground for some aviation buffs keen to assert their view that the subject is an imposter. Whatever the truth may be, hard documentary evidence for the assertions is lacking and the detractors should show restraint until they can prove their claims to WP standards. It's somewhat suspicious that some contributors have contributed to no other articles, but let's hope reason prevails. Best wishes Guffydrawers (talk) 16:56, 1 October 2016 (UTC)

Cheers, Guffydrawers. Yes, you're quite right. I thought I'd join that particular forum to see what was what and explain myself...the strength of feeling is a little disconcerting - they're so frightfully keen - and many seem to have a raging "hate-boner" for Tracey. It's an interesting situation where the normally reliable publications somehow got the wrong-end-of-the-stick, and despite their reputation, the Mail appear to be correct here (though I doubt they needed much persuading to run such an attack piece). Some people at the forum have suggested that I'm part of her PR team. Well if I was, I'd be recommending she push hard for deletion - she's not particularly notable and they *will* eventually get a reliable source to cover the "controversy", leaving her bio as little more than a character assassination. An AfD would be tricky with all those (erroneous) sources, but I share your hope that reason will prevail! --Hillbillyholiday talk
However, at least by 26th October 2016, finally the penny had dropped for these flat-earth types who can't bear to think a newspaper, or even themselves could be duped, and a 'lady' might tell a few porkies for fame or profit:

Hey John, fair play for trying to sort out this article. Looks like we've a real dogfight on our hands. After talking to some of the people involved, I thought it best to step aside, but kinda regret not nominating it for AfD when I had the chance. The original "solo" flight which earnt her the dubious distinction of a WP entry has been shown to be non-notable, so her "notoriety" now seems to rest on the stripping of her LAA award. I think one could argue this is a BLP1E situation, do you think the article stands a chance of being deleted still? --Hillbillyholiday talk 18:14, 26 October 2016 (UTC)

Interesting, I hadn't thought of that angle. Good point, let me think about it. --John (talk) 18:18, 26 October 2016 (UTC)
Yet now that the very proof they were talking of, Youtube evidence of her lying about flying solo, was posted on Wiki to prove the point late last night, one of those very same censors, 'John', deleted reference to that video evidence within minutes! They really can't bear to hear inconvenient facts that get in the way of a good story. Proof, if ever it were needed, that Wiki is patrolled and censored by some very narrow-minded and dictatorial types. Thank goodness PPRuNe has allowed the truth to be made public, blow by blow, thanks to careful moderating by pilotDAR amongst others. Wiki should wake up and see the difference.

On another subject, what is the mysterious story that Ms C-T appears to be tempting investigation of with her snippet "I thought I was going to die in a French airfield"? Was it another boast about other bad airmanship such as the busting airspace, flouting regulations, low flying, buzzing breeding whales etc. that she boasts of?

And when she states "“When we’re filming, flying low over places like the Bagan temples in Burma, it was Ewald’s job to look out for hazards, wires, cables, cell towers, temples. I was the one flying the plane.”" does she not realise just how silly she is being advertising such dangerous flying and bad airmanship? Given both the crashes she had, anyone unfortunate enough to be subjected to such dangerous flying that buildings, wires and cell towers became real hazards would be desperately looking out to help try to stay alive! If she subjected me to that, I'd have taken control, or insisted she landed straight away. When Ewald crawled out of the wreck of Artifice in Arizona, I bet he wished he'd kept tighter control. By all accounts, as she insists it was her flying, she very nearly killed him.

Jonzarno 29th Oct 2016 07:29

I can't speak for anyone else here, but I would be interested in a reasoned response from the lady herself to just three questions:

1. What is the reconciliation between Ms Curtis-Taylor's well documented claim to have flown her african flight "solo" (Please see the video clip published earlier in this thread in which she personally makes that claim) and her subsequent public statement that the flight was not solo?

2. Given the above, what was she doing in the picture of her published earlier in this thread standing in front of a huge picture claiming she had been "Alone in an open cock-pit [sic] plane"?

3. By what authority, and with what qualification, does she wear RAF wings?

If you, or Ms Curtis-Taylor, can provide sensible and satisfactory answers: I am sure that most if not all of her critics would be silenced. Certainly I am prepared to be convinced.

I look forward to hearing..... :ok:

Mike Flynn 29th Oct 2016 07:36

Ewald says we are all spouting rubbish.

Mr Gritsch dismissed the claims as “absolute nonsense. People are talking about things they don’t understand. You can’t start the engine in the front. All the flying is done by the pilot in the rear, as is normal in vintage aircraft. It’s quite simple — Tracey did all the flying, and all the organisation. She was the leader. Without her, the flight wouldn’t have happened. People are just assuming a female is not as capable as a man. That’s very sad.”
So why have a man in the front seat? It would have been better received with two women.

The point is she paraded in front of the world's press claiming to emulate two historic solo flyers.

She clearly left Cape Town with those intentions but after a few solo flights in South Africa Ewald climbed in the front seat one morning and there he stayed.

These so called solo flights involved a cast of dozens of people and I suspect somewhere around £2 million in overall costs.

The least she could have done is to fly alone in the Stearman and we would all be applauding her.

By not doing that she was no longer "emulating" or "commemorating" those historic flight but just trying to fool the press and public.

strake 29th Oct 2016 07:49

Mr Gritsch dismissed the claims as “absolute nonsense. People are talking about things they don’t understand.
Is that just Mr Tempest (Head of General Aviation Operations-CAA (retd), who 'doesn't understand' or the 123 pilots of the LAA who voted to rescind her award for claiming she was solo?

As far as talking about things not understood, Mr Gritsch, maybe we could have your comment on this?


Piltdown Man 29th Oct 2016 09:54

Just a little question: We are constantly told by the lady herself that the reason these trips took as long as they did was because of her extensive "outreach programme". But to date we have had to suffer hour after hour of cringeworthy "me me, look at me" type speeches but I don't think we have seen one "outreach" clip yet. Surely there must be one somewhere, presumably inflicted upon some deserving bunch of desperately poor Third World 'wimmin' and girls, extolling the virtues of maths, physics, engineering and informing them as to how they too can fly (solo) around the world, if they try hard enough and push us greedy men out of the way. After all, everything else appears to have been released. Or is that very few of these "outreach" events actually occurred and all her sponsors really wanted 'an in' to the right sort of people at the events she did speak at for other purposes? Or have I misunderstood something else?


Cessnafly 29th Oct 2016 10:23

"Mr Gritsch dismissed the claims as “absolute nonsense. People are talking about things they don’t understand".

Surely he cannot be serious:confused:

"You can’t start the engine in the front. All the flying is done by the pilot in the rear, as is normal in vintage aircraft".

Peddling this carp to Joe Public is one thing, but most of the informed here know different Mr Gritsch. - other than start the engine, EVERYTHING can be done from the front seat - any instructor will tell you this.

"It’s quite simple — Tracey did all the flying, and all the organisation. She was the leader".


"People are just assuming a female is not as capable as a man. That’s very sad.”

People are NOT assuming your engineered philosophy at all.
People know woman are just as capable, but this one is a trickster, isn't she.

"He added: “If I wanted to fly a vintage aeroplane, I have five at home.”

Explain to us how you can fly five at once?

pilotmike 29th Oct 2016 10:35

"He [Mr Gritsch] added: “If I wanted to fly a vintage aeroplane, I have five at home.”

Explain to us how you can fly five at once?
I don't think that was his point; more likely his comment is referring to only having five left instead of six after that miraculously quick 'rebuild' of the Wreck of Artifice. Or did he really manage to rebuild that complete wreck in impossibly short time?

Would Mr Gritsch care to visit these pages to enlighten an appreciative audience that would love to learn from a master how such meticulous work can be done so unbelievably fast? I am copying India Four Two's post of 14th July to illustrate the point I am making:

In UK, US and AUS, that I know of, you can effectively "restore" something around the maker's plate and have it certified as the original aircraft.
Also in Canada. Many Beavers are apparently "name plate" restorations

... the open cockpit vintage biplane was containerised and shipped to Hungary where a remarkably efficient and speedy rebuild was completed.In less than six weeks the Spirit of Artifice is back in the air (8/7/16) and turns up at Farnborough on the 12/7/2016.
It can't have been a very difficult rebuild.
Ewald has "suitable spares"

If you thought you had double vision seeing two pilots where we were promised there was just a solo pilot, check your vision again with this!

SATCOS WHIPPING BOY 29th Oct 2016 11:13

Well, I was going to hold off until Monday but now, having read the dross in the TIMES i have written to them and pointed the Editorial Team in the right directions.

One thing that struck me was the playing of the SEXISM card. No sexism from me, any pilot who made such claims of unimaginable skill would fall under the spot-light, irrespective of gender.
The main SEXIST aspect comes from TCT herself; Did she not consider how derogatory the BIRD-IN-A-BIPLANE moniker looks.
Were there other catchy titles considered too?
I think "Doris-in-a-double-wing" or "Strumpet-in-a-stringbag" might have run a close second and third.

In 2005 Helen MacArthur ( A TRUE inspiration to women) sailed single-handedly around the world, she too was lauded with justifiable awards (including the Honorary Lt Cdr rank). Imagine the furore if she stepped off her boat at the end, closely followed by a fellow sailor and boat engineer! Just for the record Tracey, she did her venture ALONE / SINGLE-HANDEDLY / SOLO (for the avoidance of doubt), and still managed to further the cause of women adventurers.

You have probably set it back 30 years - what people see now, and what they will see in the very near future is that you have lied about what you were doing, you have mislead sponsors, you have manipulated the media, and the accolades received have been based on a charade. Are you still sure this is how you want women to behave to achieve their goals?
You then try to deflect the blame onto others. The scurrying re-writes of web-pages and media statements are testament to this... Sorry chuck, but them's the facts - all of which can be verified and will certainly be produced in court if necessary.

Just to save time and effort, and so it is not lost in the myriad of pages, here is what I found in post #2299

Watch this video chaps.


Main part that will be of interest starts at 8:05 , listen very carefully at 9:45

Out of her own smug chops spew the words "...contacted me after I came back from Africa on my SOLO flight from Capetown back to England at the end of last year"

She then repeats the SOLO word again at 11:20. ..." that is what really drove my flight <pause for effect> SOLO from Capetown to England".

Seems this was at Herne Bay 20 September 2014.

Mike Flynn 29th Oct 2016 11:18

Where did those two Stearmans come from?

Checklist Charlie 29th Oct 2016 11:27

To use the cooking show terminology

"Here's one (or two) I prepared earlier".


PA28161 29th Oct 2016 11:35

Has anyone, yet, read Terry Holloway's (Vice Chairman, The Air League) letter in Pilot magazine? (December issue). Sycophantic or what!!

noflynomore 29th Oct 2016 11:42

Containerising an aircraft in Arizona and shipping it to Hungary certainly wouldn't leave much time out of 6 weeks for even a large team to conduct a rebuild. I'd guess you'd not have the shipment delivered in less than 2 weeks and that would be miraculously fast. You'd then need almost instant access to all the other components you needed, plus time to rig, paint and flight-test it. Not to mention the hordes of engineers to do the work.

Anyone in the freight forwarding business know how long these things take? I can't imagine you'd get it boxed and trucked to a US dockside in less than 4-5 days. Then you've got to find a ship ready to go to a suitable European port, then clear customs and truck it to Hungary. Quite a trip.
I suppose if EG has a stable full of Stearmen they could have been used as Christmas Trees but even so, quite a feat. I can think of a quicker way but it wouldn't be fair to suggest it without a shred of evidence.

On the motives for having EG on board so much of the time I wouldn't be surprised if the Caravan was so overloaded, even by African standards, that they pretty much had to "lose" someone into the Stearman. A Grand Caravan has a theoretical payload of about 1500Kg. 5 pob with bags = 500Kg. Four hours of fuel plus a reserve = 500Kg. And the remaining 500Kg won't go far at all with film gear, let alone spares for both aircraft, oil for the Stearman (and that extra fuel they wanted to tanker sometimes. Heaven knows how they ever did that.

btw, why did TCT quit flying at Old Warden? Are we missing something?

Cessnafly 29th Oct 2016 11:43

I suspect EG had seen her flying/airmanship and suspected that he would need back-up aircraft to support the gig SOLO, OR, fly with her.

As he said, "I have 5 more at home."

Stanwell 29th Oct 2016 11:46

A couple of observations, if I may..

"People are talking about things they don't understand."
The problem is, dear Ewald, that not everybody out here is gullible public.
Unfortunately, there are some that understand only too well what has been going on.

I drew the attention of my niece, a clinical psychologist, (and a PPL too, BTW) to the posts of our newest member's offerings of
her "professional opinion" of contributors to this thread. (EDIT: Now deleted, I see.)
She just shook her head and left the room laughing.

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