Aviatrix, adventurer, inspirational speaker, Tracey Curtis-Taylor, or bird in a biplane, as she calls herself, tells our lunching lot at The Taj Mahal Hotel New Delhi’s Machan, about her waitressing days, meeting Ratan Tata and the tension, or lack thereof once she’s in mid air. The 53 year old is currently on an epic journey, flying 13,000 miles across 23 countries in an antique, open-cockpit biplane named Flying Spirit of Artemis.
While the Britain born, has already once recreated history by completing a 9,000-mile solo journey from Cape Town to Goodwood, originally covered by Lady Heath in 1928, Curtis-Taylor likens her life’s work to that of aviation pioneer Amy Johnson’s. Johnson was the first woman to fly solo from Britain to Australia in 1930. And continued to set numerous long-distance records, until she tragically passed away under mysterious circumstances, 11 years later.
Unlike Amy Johnson’s flight to Australia, Tracey’s includes a few extra stopovers – she took in the experiences on offer in the UAE and Oman before making her way to India. The geographical halfway point of her historic journey is New Delhi, which she very graciously marked at The Taj Mahal Hotel. Speaking on the occasion, Tracey said, “I am delighted and grateful that Taj Hotels Resorts and Palaces is supporting my flight from Great Britain to Australia.”
The British aviatrix was gifted an exquisite Benarasi silk saree from the handpicked collection at Taj Khazana, “we are proud to be a part of her journey as she marks the geographical half-way point with us.” In addition, in honor of the milestone that Tracey is out to set, the expert chefs at the hotel, headed by Executive Chef Arun Sundararaj prepared an elaborate lunch menu for guests at the legendary Machan.
This menu comprised tributes to Tracey’s many stopovers, and included British, Middle-eastern and Indian spreads, among others. “Flying Spirit of Artemis 13,000 miles across 23 countries is very physical and you are exposed to the elements, so I was looking forward to the unrivalled warmth of Indian hospitality, world-class service and modern luxury when I arrive at The Taj Mahal Hotel.”
Wonder woman, model pilot and a tremendous source of inspiration, Tracey hopes to recreate the essence of Johnson’s era of flying, with an open cockpit, stick and rudder flying with basic period instruments and a short range between landing points. At 12 days, her India sojourn is her longest, after which she flies off to Bangladesh, Myanmar, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, concluding her 14-week voyage in Australia early next year.