British aviator Tracey Curtis-Taylor visited Colleges across the Dulwich College International network in October to speak to students about her adventures, unusual career and passion for vintage aeroplanes.
Tracey is known for her long distance flights in a vintage open cockpit aircraft, a 1942 Boeing Stearman biplane, the Spirit of Artemis. In an eight-week journey in 2013, she flew over 13,000 kilometres from Cape Town, South Africa, to Goodwood Aerodrome in the UK. Then in 2015, she completed the journey from Farnborough, UK to Sydney, Australia, covering 23 countries in 50 legs.
She spoke to students of all ages about her flights, which commemorate those made by Lady Heath and Amy Johnson in the 1920s and '30s, and bring their adventures into the modern world. She retold the stories of these pioneering female aviators in vivid detail, citing the importance of women in aviation and female empowerment.
When asked about the tour, Tracey commented, “It has been a great privilege and pleasure to give the first Shackleton Lecture – inspired by one of Dulwich College’s most famous alumni. The highlight of the tour for me was meeting so many students who already have a remarkable and enlightened sense of the world. I was bombarded with questions: brilliant, provocative and at times, highly amusing. I have been inspired!”
Tracey is the first guest speaker to host the Shackleton Lecture, a series that commemorates Old Alleynian and renowned explorer Ernest Shackleton. Simon Herbert, Headmaster of Dulwich College Beijing, said, “Tracey’s talks captured the essence of Shackleton. She inspired her audience through her sense of adventure, risk taking, courage, fun and humanity. Junior and Senior School students were engaged by her amusing and sometimes terrifying anecdotes. She answered their questions frankly, giving real insight into her motivations as a pilot-adventurer. Students in Johnson House were particularly enthralled to learn about her voyage from the UK to Australia, inspired by their house patron.”