Epic biplane flight recreates historic achievement

Flight retraces pioneer’s journey

18 December 2013: Inmarsat’s new state-of-the-art high-speed data service, BGAN HDR, is helping a pilot to share her experiences as she recreates an historic flight.

Tracey Curtis Taylor

Tracey Curtis-Taylor is re-enacting the record-setting achievement of Lady Mary Heath, who in 1928 become the first pilot to fly solo in a small open-cockpit biplane from Cape Town in South Africa to the UK.

British-born Tracey is piloting her own reconditioned Boeing Stearman biplane, The Spirit of Artemis, and facing the same gruelling conditions, exposed to the elements, as she covers the 7,000-mile (11,200km) route in 35 legs over six weeks.

Live feeds

But her flight has the valuable addition of modern-day technology provided by Inmarsat and partner Livewire Digital, allowing the challenge to be shared all over the world via social media and live feeds to international broadcasters.

Video, stills and audio – including footage from a chase plane and from cameras fitted in the cockpit and on the biplane’s wings – is being delivered to broadcast studios and Tracey’s website using Livewire Digital’s M-Link solution, via the new BGAN High Data Rate streaming service.

Representing the next revolution in satellite newsgathering, BGAN HDR has already generated much anticipation within the media industry.

Video blogs

It enables BGAN users to take advantage of the full bandwidth available with users expected to benefit from an average throughput of between 600-700kbps.

Since setting out from Cape Town on 2 November Tracey has been blogging about her adventure in word and video.

Highlights have included warm welcomes at the stopping points made on the original journey and the joy of flying just above the waves above a school of whales. But there have been frustrations caused by bad weather and broken parts too.

Pioneering aviator

A documentary about the flight, to be released next year, aims to put Mary Heath back in the public eye.

Once one of the most famous women in the world, Mary led a life of firsts – including being an ambulance driver during the World War I and pioneering women’s athletics, before becoming the first woman in Britain to receive a commercial pilot’s licence.

She went on to become the first woman in the world to parachute from a plane, then the first female airline pilot, and in 1928, the first person to fly solo from South Africa to the UK.

Tracey hopes to end her journey at Goodwood, south of London, before Christmas.

Inmarsat sponsorship: www.inmarsat.com
Cape Town to Goodwood: www.capetowntogoodwood.com