A woman made a dangerous journey from Cape Town to Goodwood alone
The severe European winter weather proved a challenge for Tracey Curtis-Taylor during her eight-week adventure from Cape Town to Goodwood.
The 51-year-old finally realised her dream of recreating the pioneering 1928 flight of Lady Mary Heath who made history by becoming the first person to fly alone across Africa.
Ms Curtis-Taylor set off from Cape Town in the Spirit of Artemis, a classic 1940s open cockpit Boeing Stearman biplane, and ended her journey by landing in appalling conditions in Goodwood, West Sussex, on New Year's Eve.
She said: 'I came in, in the atrocious weather with gusts of over 30 knots. Thank goodness it's on the coast because I couldn't see Goodwood until I was over it.
'Weather is always the biggest issue. Getting back across Europe in an open cockpit plane battling strong headwinds and crosswinds, I lose 30% of my ground speed. You are very vulnerable.'
Ms Curtis-Taylor, who has been flying for more than 30 years and was 16 years old the first time she flew a plane, passed through some of the most troubled and beautiful parts of the world.
The Spirit of Artemis has a top speed of 95mph and a maximum altitude of 10,000ft, although Ms Curtis-Taylor flew at low levels, including as low as 15ft over Lake Natron, Kenya, allowing her to enjoy Africa's wildlife and dramatic terrain.
She said one of her worst journeys was over Egypt where she was asked to fly at 10,000ft and she became worried she would not make her destination as she was almost going backwards.
She said: 'It was getting colder, the plane was getting slower and I was almost running out of fuel, but they would not let me descend.
'I was really anxious and I became almost hypothermic. In the end I didn't do what they told me because it was too dangerous.
When I flew over the Mediterranean I got told to ascend to 16,000ft which was impossible because the plane is not made to fly that high and I would have needed oxygen above 10,000ft. I was treated like a commercial airliner.'
The 40-leg trip also saw Ms Curtis-Taylor fly through Botswana, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Tanzania, Uganda, South Sudan and the Republic of Sudan.
In Egypt, she was delayed by a storm with winds of more than 70mph that delivered snow to Cairo.
Ms Curtis-Taylor had hoped to finish the journey before Christmas but the strong winds across Europe meant that she was stuck in Croatia over the festive period waiting for a window of opportunity.
She said she was very happy and relieved to get the Spirit of Artemis back to the UK in one piece.
She said: 'Having lived the project so intensively, I never quite imagined the finale. I feel completely punch drunk from the experience and desperately short of sleep.'
Her journey is being made into a feature documentary and the editing is expected to be finished by the spring.