Famous biplane adventurer Tracey Curtis-Taylor is stripped of award

AN ACCLAIMED adventurer has been stripped of an award over claims she lied about flying solo on an 8,000-mile voyage.

By The Newsroom
Friday, 11th November 2016, 5:00 am
Updated Wednesday, 16th November 2016, 5:15 pm
Tracey Curtis-Taylor

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

The flight was organised to retrace Lady Mary Heath’s 1928 journey – flying in a classic 1940s open cockpit Boeing Stearman biplane.

As a result of the trip, the 54-year-old was presented the prestigious Bill Woodhams trophy awarded for navigation by the Light Aircraft Association.

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But members of the aviation body decided to rescind the title at their latest annual general meeting after it was claimed the pilot flew only a handful of the 36 legs alone.

Ms Curtis-Taylor denied 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’.

She said she had intended to make the journey in the biplane flying solo, but denied claims she had made ‘false assertions’ about the trip.

In a statement, Ms Curtis-Taylor explained several people had flown with her on multiple legs between Cape Town and the UK, including her engineer Ewald Gritsch.

But she added: ‘I have never made false assertions about the nature of my flights and I dismiss the suggestion that they are “mired in controversy”.

‘A combination of elements resulted in fundamental changes being made to the nature of that expedition.’

The controversy comes amid calls to strip the famed pilot of other honorary titles presented to her in Portsmouth.

Last year, Ms Curtis-Taylor was awarded the rank of Lieutenant Commander in the maritime reserve.

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

Her defiance has infuriated the father of a serving Royal Navy officer, based at HMS Collingwood, who said she should be stripped of her rank and all her 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.’