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Female pilot completes epic solo flight

Aviator Tracey Curtis-Taylor has arrived in Australia after a three-month trip in a biplane more than 70 years old. The flight was in part an homage to legendary female adventurer Amy Johnson.

British adventurer Tracey Curtis-Taylor finished her grand journey from Britain to Australia in a 1942 biplane on Saturday. "I need a drink," she declared as her three-month journey came to its conclusion with a flyover of Sydney Harbour.

Curtis-Taylor, 53, began her journey in Farnborough in the southeast of England on October 1 with the goal of retracing the flight path of her legendary predecessor Amy Johnson, who became the first woman to complete a solo flight between England and Australia in 1930.

After being held up in Romanian storms, making her way around conflict-torn regions in the Middle East, and scrounging for fuel with the help of Aborigines in the Australian outback, Curtis-Taylor and her 1942 Boeing Stearman, "Spirit of Artemis," finally made it to Sydney, where the elated aviator was immediately handed a glass of champagne.

"In doing something like this you have to be absolutely self-sufficient," Curtis-Taylor told Reuters news agency in an interview prior to the end of her journey. "We have done something like 54 stops and that it was takes the time."

Tracey Curtis-Taylor Australien Landung 1942 Boeing Stearman

Curtis-Taylor flew the plane using only period instruments and technology, with help from a support plane behind her

The aviator covered 14,000 miles (22,000 kilometers) over 23 countries throughout her trip. Besides rough weather and conditions, Curtis-Taylor also had to contend with airport officials wary about security and relying on a type of fuel no longer available at modern airports.

"I've lost my rag several times dealing with people on the ground," she said, explaining that she once had to spend seven hours at just one airport trying to get the necessary "avgas," or aviation gasoline needed for the 74-year-old plane.

The timing coincided with the 75th anniversary of Amy Johnson's death, who was 26 when she touched down in Darwin, Australia and completed her flight. Johnson died at just 37 in a flying accident during World War II.

es/ng (AFP, Reuters)

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