Calls for famed pilot to be stripped of her titles in Portsmouth amid claims she lied about solo flight

CALLS have been made for an acclaimed adventurer to be stripped of her honorary titles amid claims she lied about her aerial exploits.

Friday, 23rd September 2016, 5:59 am
Updated Wednesday, 5th October 2016, 2:20 pm
Tracey Curtis-Taylor flew from Africa to Goodwood in a biplane - but there is a row as to whether it was a solo flight or not

Tracey Curtis-Taylor was celebrated for completing a solo flight from Cape Town, South Africa, to Goodwood in 2013.

As a result of the trip, the 54-year-old was awarded the honorary rank of Lieutenant Commander in the maritime reserve last year.

And in July this year, she received an honorary doctorate from the University of Portsmouth for her adventuring.

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But claims have emerged suggesting the vintage biplane pilot did not complete the 36 legs of her 7,000-mile voyage alone – and that Ms Curtis-Taylor was accompanied by a fellow male pilot for much of it.

It has prompted calls for the Light Aircraft Association to rescind her prestigious 
Bill Woodhams Trophy awarded to her in 2015 for the flight.

It comes as she is due to speak of her exploits tonight at a fundraiser event for Portsmouth-based armed forces cause the Royal Navy and Royal Marines Charity.

The news has infuriated the father of a serving Royal Navy officer, based at HMS Collingwood, who said she should be stripped of her rank and titles.

Mike Flynn, a former BBC reporter and pilot, said: ‘She’s embellished this great aviatrix story which just is not true. She’s fooled everybody. ‘

Ms Curtis-Taylor took on the 2013 trip to honour Lady Mary Heath’s historic 1928 solo flight between South Africa and the UK.

She denies her own trip was ever planned as lone voyage – despite an official press release by supporters Boeing at the time, which described it as a ‘solo journey’.

In a statement, she claimed there had been an ‘initial hope’ of a solo flight.

But this was dropped early on as the expedition grew in scale.

She added: ‘I’m deeply disappointed at the comments coming from a particular source making false assertions that my flight expeditions should have been executed as solo flights.

‘They were not. They are all about a collaborative team effort and celebrating the brilliant achievements of women like Amy Johnson and Lady Heath who made history when aviation was in its infancy.’