AVIATRIX | Tracey Curtis-Taylor


Boeing-Stearman biplane "Spirit of Artemis"

Recently I was blessed to have the honour of spending a day and a half with a hero of mine- aviator Tracey Curtis Taylor aka ‘Bird in a Biplane’. Tracey has organised and piloted multiple flight expeditions with historic aircraft across Africa, Asia, Europe, Australia and America and has devoted her life to the art of flying and inspiring others with her passion. She is a pioneer of aviation both today and of yesteryear.

Tracey has completed multiple transcontinental routes in her biplane, the Boeing-Stearman "Spirit of Artemis". These ‘journeys of a lifetime’ (she has lived many) have been pinnacles of a life filled with achievement and success. Achieving both her personal and commercial licences, gaining her instructor rating and also participating in aerobatics and formation flying- there is no holding Tracey back. She is equally motivated and compelled to inspire and encourage others, especially women, to achieve their dreams and goals.

In addition to being immensely talented, she is also just an incredible person, her experiences have filled her with a knowledge and enthusiasm for the world and our inhabitants which is optimistic, educated and endearing. It was a delight to be able to talk with her in depth about life, her loves and living dreams.

Her latest movie is to be released this year in 2019, trailer below.


Trailer for upcoming feature length documentary about vintage biplane pilot Tracey Curtis-Taylor's attempts to recreate the epic flights of pioneer aviators of the 1920's and 30's.



In 2013, Curtis-Taylor flew Spirit of Artemis in an eight-week journey, covering over 13,000 km, from Cape Town, South Africa to the Goodwood Aerodrome in West Sussex, England. The journey comprised a total of 38 legs and 110 basic VFR flying hours, and followed the 1928 flight of Mary, Lady Heath, from Cape Town to Cairo, Egypt, travelling over Zimbabwe, Zambia, Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda and Sudan. The journey took five years to prepare for, including finding a biplane which would cope with the heat of Africa.


On 1 October 2015 Curtis-Taylor departed from Farnborough, England, flying in Spirit of Artemis, arriving in Sydney Australia on 9 January 2016. The journey was inspired by pioneer aviator Amy Johnson, who flew solo from England to Australia in 1930. The flight path was across 23 countries in 50 legs. She was accompanied by a small support crew in a modern plane who documented the journey for her movie.

Several stopovers were scheduled into the flight, often with the aim of introducing Curtis-Taylor to local communities and to inspire others, particularly women. In Dubai, the plane was part of the Boeing display at the Dubai Airshow in the United Arab Emirates, while Curtis-Taylor was a keynote speaker at the International Aviation Women's Association conference.

In Pakistan Curtis-Taylor was hosted by Squadron Leader Saira Batool of the Pakistani Air Force, and visited a school in Karachi with female Pakistani mountaineer Samina Baig to speak about their adventures and to inspire the children. In Singapore, she met with girls and women involved in the UN Women programme Girls2Pioneers.


In spring 2016 Curtis-Taylor started a US Transcontinental Flight, with multiple stops along the historic US Airmail Routes, flying from Seattle to Los Angeles and the Transcontinental route from LA to NY. The trip was cut short by a crash in the desert, at Winslow, Arizona, due to a loss of engine power. The NTSB investigation reported that "a gray / tan liquid was drained from the carburetor". She and her co-pilot were uninjured but the Boeing Stearman was badly damaged. It was airlifted from Phoenix to Hungary, where it was rebuilt in time to attend the 2016 Farnborough International Airshow, which celebrated Boeing's centenary year. She returned with her Boeing Stearman to LA in June 2017 and finished the flight across the USA with a finale at the American Airpower Museum at Republic Airport NY. This completed her World Flight, flying across five continents. On both US tours the Stearman biplane was shipped across the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans, as it does not have the fuel range or instrumentation to cover such distances.

🛩️ 🛩️ 🛩️


It has been an exciting and demanding few weeks creating and seeking opportunities for India!

I love working with children and young ones one-on-one and sharing my passion for creativity and design. Ever since I was a child I have really enjoyed being a part of days or afternoons of artistic activity; learning new things with other people and sharing and interacting while doing so is really cool, and worthwhile. Ya see, it’s not just about what you are doing, it’s about what you are feeling, talking about with others, sharing and experiencing. It’s about meeting people who challenge you, it’s about meeting people you admire, it’s about seeing things done different ways and it’s about p.l.a.y. ‘engaging in activity for enjoyment and recreation rather than a serious or practical purpose’. Invention, ingenuity and creativity comes from doing things differently, and that doesn’t come too well if it’s panicked about an end game (that can tick along in the sidelines and come back in later). 

A lot of people forget how important it is to be creative. We get caught up in getting ahead and in day-to-day minutiae. But creativity is a fundamental mode of expression, as is being tenacious and standing by your own convictions and passions, even if it’s not the ‘popular’ choice.
— Tabatha Coffey

Sitting solitary at a computer or device can teach and impart many things, but it lacks a personal touch and it only gives one thing- it doesn’t share on more than one platform. 

Those of you who follow my blog or writing will be well aware of my love of spectrums, juxtapositions and qualities. In this life, there are many, many ways to do the same thing, but they can be greatly varied in the beneficial attributes that each way has. I like doing things that hit many bases. I seek things that help others, help me, do things differently, have challenge, are unusual and have the capacity for exploration both mental and physical.

Here’s a relevant comparison for you of what I mean:

Learning how to paint on an IPad.

  • ease of access; linear engagement

  • no need to leave the house, no challenge to find new location

  • only buy/ collect the media for that job- no access to other materials

  • limited meetings with other people and having to interact and communicate

  • it's very stop start & interrupted making- flicking back and forth between things

  • relatively low stress/ challenge/ competition with others

  • no time limit

  • accessable 24/7 and often free

  • relatively static/ low impact physically

  • opportunity for daydream away from the topic

  • it’s only one way- no group brainstorm that leads onto other things

  • there is no-one to talk to- one cook in the idea kitchen

  • less instigation of creativity sparked from peripheral situations/ exposure to additional things

  • experience isn't stored in long term memory- no ‘kapow’ factor

  • there is no motivation to ask questions, dispute the learning method or see other ways of doing the same thing

  • there are no bloopers

  • when mistakes happen it’s easy to walk away


Learning how to paint in a workshop over two days with other people in a different environment, culture and language.

  • all the challenges involved in travel for those attending- new culture and societal structure

  • new city to navigate and find bearings- absolutely necessary to push oneself to interact, talk with others- the journey is just (if not more) important than the course!

  • required to look after yourself and those around you in order to get where you need to go- personal challenge

  • person may be challenged to have to lead or take a role they otherwise would not do in ‘normal’ surroundings- group challenge

  • movement

  • more high impact = less time to worry about other small things

  • sharing one person’s cultural ways of doing things with another’s

  • exposing the new culture to a different looking person and attributes

  • new communication techniques, languages and gestures- gettin creative with the basics!

  • stripping away fear’s related to external appearance or impressions- people see when spending time together we are all deep down the same stuff with the same basic needs and concerns

  • individual confrontation of prejudice, fear, unfamiliarity, anxiety

  • group dynamics- helping weakest/ challenged members, supporting domineering or controlling members to be better team players

  • organically letting the development flow and introducing new concepts/ techniques in relation to this- lots of cooks in the idea’s kitchen!

  • lots of different people to talk to who share a common interest, and being made to by necessity

  • learning how do do something new, liberating and fun- instigates a higher level of creativity

  • humour, play and enjoyment

  • lets re-write that one: play and enjoyment. These are ESSENTIAL building blocks in helping someone learn, retain information long term and instigate changes for the better

  • ya can’t just shimmy out and walk away as easy

  • if it ‘flops’ there is a person there to help

  • the feeling of belonging, being part of building something bigger than just yourself and making real friendships- this. is. huge.

  • sharing a little hope and joy to those less fortunate or being shown there is help available and other people care- that IPad doesn't hug and touch

  • create positive long-term memories for a person to draw upon- 'kapow' factor!

  • imparting passion- that feeling good and having fun lives within us and in cooperation; by reaching out a person can learn they already have all the skills within them to make things better and improve their heath and surroundings. Positive impact starts with personal responsibility.

  • con.fi.dence and increased feelings of self worth and value

  • engaged creativity- it's all the peripheral stuff that additionally feeds this machine

What we have in our heads, is far more sophisticated than anything we can can put in our hands or laps ;) 

Sooo because I love doing what I do and want to maximise every avenue available in order to share these gifts while I am away, I have done the following:

I’ve approached the Wellington India Association with the invitation to explore connecting me with their contacts in India to set up an artistic connection between Wellington and cities abroad. I offer organised workshops sharing my knowledge and artistic skills with the local community and the opportunity to be a part of my next exhibition. This will be work inspired and possibly partially created in India. 

I have introduced myself and offered my time, resources and skills to the following galleries for workshops, cultural exchange and interaction while in India:

CLICK on this map if you would like to see where I am going, and follow the updates as I add to it

CLICK on this map if you would like to see where I am going, and follow the updates as I add to it

Kiriti Gallery- Varanasi

India Art- Pune

Aakriti Art Gallery- New Delhi

I have investigated opportunities through MFAT for new business and cultural relationships between India and New Zealand and how my experience and skills could help construct a new cultural link between both nations. India is advertised as a country high on their priority list to network with and nurture new connections. 

I have personally reconnected with people who have expressed interest in this new adventure through existing contacts and by getting out there and making new ones; and have met with those who have wanted to extend their support either financially, through connections or emotionally. That last one being just as important than the first two!

Most wonderfully, I have made new friends and reconnected with people I have met previously on my travels from around the world who are interested and excited to meet up with me in India and share in the incredible things I am going to create and develop while there. These fantastic souls are musicians, entrepreneurs, people invested and working within their community, designers and artists. I am incredibly excited to have the good fortune to have people to meet while in a new country. 

But hey, lets get real nitty-gritty eh, for most people it comes down to this, ’what’s in it for me if I help fund your endeavour?’. 

I’m going to be frank with you- people who help me do so from the goodness of their heart, and because they like what I create. What is the value of me and my skills in a world based around profit? What is the merit of a person who sees value in things that others disregard? What is the value to the people I encounter, help and spend my time with? 

If you read the post Moxie .:’:. I.N.D.I.A recently (later than published) you may have seen I added in information about bigger projects I am working on which have a greater social and community impact than my creations. These trips, these adventures aren’t me just doing art. India is one of the oldest civilisations on the planet and like Japan, I believe there are valuable things to learn from those who have been doing things longer than others. A culture with this much background is a wealth of ideas to draw from- their empires have been built and destroyed many times over- they have developed and gone through commercialisation many more times than the rest of the world- are they not our future? Is India not what we will be, not what we were?

'Sooo' you ask, 'you haven't answered the question, what do I get?' You get to be associated long-term to a genuine, honest, talented woman who has a bigger and better picture for how we do things and how to help keep each other healthy, and come hell or high water is going to do something about it. You get my time, you receive my respect, you have an honest friendship not built on your wallet but of a true debt that I owe you as a human- you need a hand, I’m there- you have access to a wealth of skills and knowledge- lets talk about how we can help each other; and, if you find yourself drawn to a creation of mine- a wonderful unique artwork. This isn’t everyones thing- if you want a association to the 'art world', galleries and the lifestyle that entails I’m not your woman. But if you can see a bigger picture with me and are curious to seeing how I’m going to pan out and want to be part of it; if you trust me to follow through with what I say, if you see I am genuine in my activity to help others and subsequently work on the ideas I have to build & change things, then you my friend are the type of person I’d like to talk to. 

One very important aspect of motivation is the willingness to stop and to look at things that no one else has bothered to look at. This simple process of focusing on things that are normally taken for granted is a powerful source of creativity.
— Edward de Bono

Don't take me for granted- I'm more than what you may expect. Be creative, take a risk, look a little closer...