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

Mike Flynn 14th Apr 2016 08:06

Tracey Curtis-Taylor (Merged threads)
Just been looking back through all the well documented UK to Australia solo flights since Bert Hinkler did the first one in 1928.

It appears every one has been well funded and the pilots have been well connected.

So my question is has anyone done it without major sponsors,funding and fame?

The only one can find is paraplegic Dave Sykes and he does not even warrant a wiki entry!

Baikonour 14th Apr 2016 09:49

I didn't think Bert was particularly well connected or well-to-do at the time...? In fact, Bert's life story (polygamy notwithstanding) seems to me to have been one of those 'never quite recognised for what he was' stories ;)

Seriously, I think if you are looking "through all the well documented UK to Australia solo flights" then you are likely to only find those that are, errrm, well documented.
Even though there have certainly been several others, they have not been so well documented.

I don't think that means that you can only fly solo to Oz if you are well connected and/or well-to-do, but it probably does mean that those who have chosen to make a big thing out of their flights have been.

Some of those, and David Sykes is prime amongst them :ok:, certainly deserve much more attention than they have received, but they have not received it either because they have not captured the media's eyes or because they have not wanted to capture the media's eyes...

What is your angle? Are you thinking of doing it and wondering whether you will need/how to find funding or connections or are you looking to write up a story about those who deserve more attention?

As an aside, there was also a fair amount of controversy over a recent flight, repeatedly referred to as 'solo' which was nothing of the sort.


Romeo Tango 14th Apr 2016 10:51

I did it in 1985 in my Robin. On the good side there was a bit more Avgas around in those days. On the other hand lack of GPS made it more interesting.
There was someone a few weeks ahead of me doing it in a Gypsy something or other.

Plenty of people have done it, it's not that difficult, it just takes time and money. Contacts help and make it more fun ... but a clearance agent and more money also do the job.

When I say money I mostly mean fuel and hotels. Though there will be the occasional nasty handling/flight clearance fee.

Glasgow_Flyer 14th Apr 2016 12:32

One of our club members recently did it the other way - had so much fun doing it, he continued right round :-)

Mike Flynn 14th Apr 2016 17:33

Still on my too do list although I have managed some nice long trips.

Bert Hinkler was well connected via his work with AV Roe. His record of 15.5 days for the route from the UK to Australia in 1928 is amazing given the poor logistics. Amy Johnson did a pretty good job managing the journey in 19 days in 1930. I doubt any modern pilot could achieve the journey in the same aircraft with just a map,compass and no radio today.

I must say I admire your style Romeo Tango. What happened to the Robin?

Romeo Tango 14th Apr 2016 19:20

IMHO it was not that bad without radio/GPS before WW2. There was no controlled airspace to stay out of or airways to stay inside and you didn't have to tell anyone where you were. Most destinations UK->Australia are on a coastline/river so easy to find. It did not really matter where you were between departure and destination - it must have been quite relaxing in some ways.

The Robin is in a shed 30 meters from where I sit.

Mike Flynn 14th Apr 2016 19:32

Any chance you can post a few pics of the more exotic or hard part of the trip Romeo Tango.
Did you fly Chittagong to Chiang Mai direct?

Mark 1 15th Apr 2016 00:06

Colin Hales' trip in his KR2 was certainly at the budget end of the spectrum.
He's since flown to the US and planning to continue in a westerly direction.

Mike Flynn 15th Apr 2016 00:44

Thanks for the heads up on Colin. What a great guy and adventurer. Amazing that Colin and his partner flew the small aeroplane they built all the way from the UK to Australia to achieve a such a result.

Pretty amazing reading this BBC story

Two flying enthusiasts from Oxfordshire have arrived home after a record-breaking journey which took them to the other side of the world.
Colin Hales and Nadine Brauns flew all the way to Australia in a home-made plane.

Their tiny two-seater KR2, which has a wingspan of just 6m, is the smallest plane ever to have flown from England .

After fifteen months away, the couple flew into Oxford airport in Kidlington on Thursday morning.
It took around 60 flights altogether to get to Australia, and they stopped off in 21 countries.

While they had many adventures on their trip, Mr Hales said one of the scariest times was flying over the India-Pakistan border just after a spy plane had been shot down in the same area.

"The idea was not to set records, it was just to see how far we could get,'' said Mr Hales, an aeronautical engineer who lives near Oxford.

Next year the couple plan to fly their aircraft to the US for celebrations of the 100th anniversary of powered flight. http://3ukr694671p02fhcme3a1bsaiek.w...s-and-Itzy.jpg

Romeo Tango 15th Apr 2016 09:42

My route was Southampton, Dinard, Perpignan, Palermo, Athens, Iraklion, Cairo, Luxor, Jeddah, Riyadh, Bahrain, Muscat, Karachi, Dehli, Patna, Kathmandu, Calcutta, Rangoon, Bangkok, Hat Yai, KL, Seletar, Jakarta, Bali, Kupang, Darwin.
Then round Australia and back nearly the same way.
A quite conservative route - I was not very experienced, I was careful.

Darwin Australia

BatteriesNotIncluded 15th Apr 2016 12:48

Romeo Tango - what a fantastic route. Consider me inspired.

Romeo Tango 15th Apr 2016 14:38

That was 30 years ago, there are some alternatives that are more sensible today!

Mike Flynn 16th Apr 2016 06:51

What an amazing adventure Romeo Tango,you really have my admiration.

I see some of the legs are quite long such as Calcutta to Rangoon or Yangon as it is known now. Any chance you can post some more pictures and info. How long did the entire trip take and did you manage to see a lot of the sights? Did your partner fly?

Were ther any weather problems.

The airborne and ground logistics must have taken some planning. Packing your life in to a small space for what must have taken at least six months.

Romeo Tango 16th Apr 2016 18:42

Things were different in those days .....
I did not know anyone to ask (and no PPrune!) so I did it from first principles. The UK AIS then was quite an extensive setup in some nissen huts at Pinner with a set of civil servants who maintained a library of AIP publications from every country on the planet. I went there and looked up all the entry requirements. Also a nice man gave me a set of photocopied documents which was a How to Fly in Foreign Parts Guide put together from various sources.
Much telexing later I got clearance from every country on my route except India and Burma. Fortunately a friend knew a Maharajah with a pilot's license, one telephone call from him fixed India (he later was very hospitable and looked after us much more generously than I had any right to expect). A telex to the British Air Attache in Burma persuaded them to let me in.

After all that the flying was relatively straightforward. The only bad weather was in southern France (hence the rather roundabout routing above). No internet but there were more traditional met offices, obviously very airline orientated and difficult to actually go to in many places. It was always stressful just having a few TAFs (if that) and no real feeling for the weather on a strange continent.

No GPS so much dead reckoning when out of range of beacons but since I was mostly dealing with international airports there was usually something near the destination.

Needless to say there were plenty of situations that had to be resolved but there were also countless beautiful/amazing/surreal sights and happenings.

My companion, Emma McCune (qv), was not a pilot but helped with visas etc and one had to share the sights with someone.

Calcutta - Rangoon is only 560 nm. My Robin has about 1000nm to dry tanks. Though there was no avgas at Jeddah and Rangoon so I carried fuel in a separate tank which was then transferred to the main tanks on the ground via siphon and bucket.

Be inspired - do it! These long distance trips are much easier than one might think.

rans6andrew 16th Apr 2016 21:12

er.... if you want to celebrate 100 years of powered flight you need to go back 13 years! Next year will be 14 years too late.

What did happen 100 years before 2017?

Mike Flynn 16th Apr 2016 21:15

I never knew where this thread would take me when I started it but I am in tears as I read your post.
( to understand my feelings please read this https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emma_McCune )

So sad what happened to your companion Emma.

To die in a normal road accident after what she and you went through just underlines fate will get us in the end.

Many thanks for the link.

Please post a few more pictures.

Straighten Up 16th Apr 2016 23:17

RT - lovely to read your posts here. I love the planning aspect and have planned some great routes but unfortunately weather has kept my longest trip at around 1000nm over a few days. I'm inspired by your trip and hope to do something similar one day.

Romeo Tango 17th Apr 2016 10:28

I have put some photos here:

Straighten Up 17th Apr 2016 17:16

Lovely pictures - presume you were comparing horse power in the last one.....groan!

Genghis the Engineer 17th Apr 2016 17:40

Eve Jackson

indyaachen 18th Apr 2016 13:35

Wow RT, you stopped by my hometown (Patna) on the way. I reckon it must be quieter in those days at and around the airport, but not much has changed since in terms the attitude towards GA, bewilderment and resistance.

Romeo Tango 18th Apr 2016 14:34

I can say that everyone was friendly and helpful there. There was lots of paperwork and calculation that produced a landing fee equivalent to something less than £1.

Mike Flynn 18th Apr 2016 15:28

Was there any reason you chose to route Calcutta to Yangon (Rangoon) direct?

Probably around five hours around the coast but you could have stopped at Chittagong?

Yangon has changed a lot. I was there a few weeks ago and still like the city. Some wonderful old dilapidated colonial buildings soon to be restored with the return to semi democracy.

How many days did you allocate at each stop? The sightseeing must have been an important part of the journey?

Romeo Tango 18th Apr 2016 15:41

I could not go everywhere, I went in as straight a line as reasonably possible (with the odd exception). Chittagong would have been another country, paperwork and clearances.

Stay time varied. Sometimes only a night and straight on it the morning. A week of tourism in a couple of places. We stayed a couple of nights in Rangoon, kind people but almost zero in the way of manufactured goods, no glass in the windows, biros and whisky were hard currency.

The ATC chief did a deal with me - he turned on the VOR in exchange for some spare maps.

Mike Flynn 18th Apr 2016 18:34

Yangon has changed a lot. New enlarged airport just opened and building work everywhere.

I guess you did a circuit of Australia with Yulara and Alice included.

Interesting to look at your route and compare it to this...http://i.imgur.com/NPQpy7Q.jpg

How difficult is that old kangaroo route today? I understand Maurice Kirk did it in a Piper Cub just sleeping under the aircraft wing?

Mike Flynn 18th Apr 2016 19:06

In reply to Ghenghis, Eve Jackson certainly achieved so much on her solo microlight journey from the UK to Australia in 1986. No GPS or mobile phones in those days and she did it alone. Dave Cook who designed the Shadow deserves some credit. Very much in the shadow of Amy Johnson if you pardon the pun.
I found this old cutting.


Romeo Tango 19th Apr 2016 09:24

Nice map .... those were the days .....

Mike Flynn 20th Apr 2016 23:54

If the route can be done with a microlight then a normal fixed wing should present no problems? What are the longest legs?

Romeo Tango 21st Apr 2016 08:50

The problem is avgas availability. If you have a diesel/turbine then it's easy.

Mike Flynn 21st Apr 2016 19:54

Was there more avgas availability in the past than now? Was it easier 75 years ago?

What puzzles me is how Amy Johnson and Bert Hinkler managed to fly all that way in under three weeks in basic open aircraft but modern pilots with GPS etc cannot. Has anyone emulated them in the same aircraft without using modern technology?

The London to Sydney air race was a bit of a sham as the winner,Spirit of Kai Tak, was a remanufactured Piper Aerostar where the pilots did little more than sit down and watch the scenary go by as the autopilot did the flying.

Meanwhile the whacky races character Maurice Kirk was lurching from self imposed disaster to disaster and later managed to get his Cub to Japan before a mechanical problem saw him land on a dual carriageway.

Romeo Tango 22nd Apr 2016 09:16

75 years ago AIUI light aircraft engines would run on the same stuff as commercial flights. So, since Amy Johnson etc were flying between existing airfields (mostly) there was fuel.

When I went to Australia in 1985 there were still DC3s around so there was avgas in many places though even then there was none at Jeddah and Rangoon.

The difficult bit with flying outside Europe today with a petrol light aircraft is fuel availability, it makes life much easier if you have a ferry tank and/or a range greater than 1000nm.

Flight clearance agents and ferry pilots often know the latest situation.

Sometimes there is a flying club and/or you need to know someone with some drums in a shed.

Baikonour 22nd Apr 2016 10:42

75 years ago AIUI light aircraft engines would run on the same stuff as commercial flights.
I think it was even easier than that. AAUI, pre-WWII, most engines ran on automotive grade fuel, since (few) engines required higher than 87 octane at the time. Automotive gasoline was (and is - which would help microlights more than heavier metal) available everywhere. Especially for the pioneers, even if 'more modern' engines were available, staying on mogas seems a sensible choice to keep your options open.

I also think that there was a much lower administrative burden. You could fly the routes shown above whilst never straying away from the British Empire. I'd imagine that a call to the local consul would help with much of the paperwork and, especially as a British citizen and even without much corporate support, you would expect to be assisted.

As we all know, aircraft fly the same whether they are over Basra, Bengalore or Bali, but getting to the bottom of and complying with the ANO in those places is a challenge. And those are just 3 examples out of how many?

It would be lovely if there were a more regular London-Sydney 'race' aimed at amateur participants. The 'race organiser' would assist with the administrative burden and planning and fuel could be procured on a bulk basis to enable interim stops to be used, putting more of the focus of the flights back on the flying itself. And doing that without it becoming a corporate circus... (dreams on)

BTW - If there is such a thing - please post a link!


Romeo Tango 22nd Apr 2016 10:54

The admin burden does not have to be that bad. The info on who and what to ask for each country is in Jeppesen and (sometimes) the internet.

The problem comes when the relevant authorities do not answer your request for permission ..... this can be solved (at a cost) by using a flight clearance agent who knows more people to ask and who's palm to grease.

On occasion I have simply gone anyway without permission and sorted it when I got there, one can get unstuck doing that of course.

It was easier in the days of the Empire though .....

DownWest 23rd Apr 2016 06:56

Have a read here England Australia by Tiger Moth

I havn't seen David for a while, but NRF was with the McAully group back in the early 70s. I was briefly a member, while spannering at Shipdham. When NRF came in for her C of A, I found some un-authorised repairs to the spar roots and new spars were outside the budget ( on finding this I was not the most popular member in the group :o) ). She was sold on as a project a couple of times, then David bought her and had her rebuilt. He still flies her out of Scotland and does a few shows.

Little bit more:
David did another flight in a DH86a Dragon Rapide to S. Africa. Bit less successful with a few probs.
He and his delightful wife flew over to us for lunch in around 74. Landed in the field behind our house. My father, who had flown with 32 Sqd in the BoB went up for a quick buzz and showed David a few bits that were not in the normal books, like falling leafs. Not bad after last flying one in 39.
David is a truly nice guy, the article sounds like him.

I was at Shipdham from the start in 70 to the end of 74. We did a lot of fabric stuff, including two 82a s for David before NRF. He was flying Lightnings out of Suffolk at that time.
Must write him a note.

This will make you grin... Back in the 70s, we bought a Dragon Rapide for around £200 quid. It was littering up a field and had not paid it's dues. We looked carefully at the fuel filters and oïl stuff. Ran the engines for a bit, then flew it back to our base. Gave it a quick C of A an then rented it to Peterborough for parachute drops. With the door off and seats out, it would take ten. The Gypsy Sixes didnt like the quick climbs and décents, so I was often over there replacing cylinder heads because the exhaust stud bolts worked out.
The dead stick in our Mooney on the other thread was one of those trips.

Mike Flynn 25th Apr 2016 18:47

Is it still flying?

DownWest 26th Apr 2016 07:11


I was back in UK and visited Shipdham, they were giving it an overhaul prior to flying out to Israel. IIRR the IDF had bought it for parachute work.

It had figured in a drama while with the British Army, when a squaddie's chute had opened in the door, then caught on the tailplane, towing the poor guy behind. The jump master lashed some static lines together and was trailed back to him, where he cut the lines and they both went down on the JM's chute. Think he got a GM for that. I remembered seeing it in the papers, so when I noticed that a repair had been made to the tailplane, I found a note in the Log Book, that refered to it.
It was built as a Dominie, not a civilian a/c, so had the radio shack behind the pilot.

BTW, thanks for that link to the Scotsman.

Mike Flynn 27th Apr 2016 20:07

Just trying to defend the real pilots who have flown the route.

So sad there are Walter Mitty reality tv people out there sailing on the back of the true pilots.

How long before we get a reality tv show on the back of Maurice Kirk who did it in a Cub during the London Sydney Air Race.

NearlyStol 27th Apr 2016 21:16

I'm with Jay on this one. If the guy in the front is NOT a pilot, he deserves a bigger
gong !

NearlyStol 27th Apr 2016 22:07

Friends in high places ? Throw big money at it and the strings get pulled.
Degrades all the achievements of the early pioneers . The block on comments
could have been instigated by the South Yorkshire Police. It stinks !
I am a fan of Maurice Kirk . Maybe the South Wales Police have been giving lessons !

Flying Lawyer 29th Apr 2016 17:12

Jay Sata

I agree with you that any suggestion that it was a solo flight is very misleading.

Sadly it appears that money and publicity count much more these days than the sheer spirit of adventure that inspired the sort of trips that have appeared on this thread.

Unfortunately, people with a spirit of adventure are as frequently criticised as admired in our risk averse nanny state world.
They are sometimes criticised on PPRuNe – particularly in this forum.

On this occasion the Honourable Guild Of Air Pilots awarded the Masters Medal for what was in effect a dual flight reality tv programme.
She has been awarded the Master's Medal (which will be presented in October) for highlighting women in aviation and encouraging girls/young women to pursue their aspirations even if they seem to be beyond reach. I don't remember the precise words but that is the gist.

The Honourable Guild of Air Pilots are just a lot of high society UK pilots who clap each other on the back and wear gowns at their meetings.
You clearly know nothing about the Honourable Company of Air Pilots. (Formerly the Guild of Air Pilots and Air Navigators. See here: http://www.pprune.org/military-aviat...ir-pilots.html )
Apart from one aspect (gowns) which is partially correct, what you say is nonsense.
Gowns are worn in only two circumstances. Members wear them if/when they become a Liveryman, and only on that one occasion. Officers of the Company wear the company’s livery (gowns) at formal meetings and on ceremonial occasions only. That is a livery company tradition - and why they become known as ‘livery’ companies.

We have Royal members but the overall membership is not "high society". About two thirds of our members are current or former professional pilots. PPLs (like me) are made very welcome.
We do not "clap each other on the back." We honour aviators from around the world regardless of whether they are members. The overwhelming majority of recipients are not.
If you were to attend or read about our magnificent annual Trophies & Awards banquets held at Guildhall in the City of London you could not fail (unless you are very odd) to be impressed and inspired by the various accounts of professionalism, dedication, skill, courage, determination and service to others exhibited by the recipients.
The exceptional achievements of some recipients during their careers were previously known only to those in their field; others are more well-known.
Other aviators are honoured for their outstanding skill and professionalism (and often breath-taking bravery) on a single occasion.

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