STATEMENT OF EWALD GRITSCH
3G Classic Aviation Europe
Flight-Expeditions across Africa, Europe, Asia, Australia and America
with a Boeing Stearman biplane, the “Spirit of Artemis”, flown by Tracey Curtis-Taylor
Due to recent articles in the tabloid press and some internet forums, dealing with reference to my name and role in various expeditions, I have to correct the wrong and at times defaming information published.
These articles and internet comments are all based on the misleading and wrong information of a single person.
Here are the answers to the questions raised:
- Yes, the Spirit of Artemis is an original Boeing Stearman B75 built in 1942, powered by an upgraded version of the original engine, a 300HP Lycoming built the same year. The airplane had been fully restored in 2012/13 by my company, 3G Classic Aviation in Austria.
Like the airplanes of the early pioneers of aviation, the Spirit of Artemis is equipped with additional fuel tanks for long range flights over water, desert, jungles, etc. But as it does not have the range to cross the Pacific or Atlantic it was shipped across these two oceans, just like it was done by many aviation pioneers on their expeditions in the 1920s and 30s.
- Yes, this Boeing Stearman airplane is owned by Tracey Curtis-Taylor, who commissioned the restoration in 2012.
- Yes, the Spirit of Artemis is a basic stick and rudder airplane, like in the old days of aviation, no autopilots, artificial horizon or modern IFR equipment installed. The only up-to-date addition is a radio, transponder and GPS, which is a legal and practical requirement for flying into controlled airspaces, like around international airports and other restricted airspaces. Naturally this had not been a requirement in the early 1900s.
- Yes, all the expedition flights were performed by basic VFR navigation, following rivers, roads, railroads, coastlines, etc, at low level. Although the GPS served as a backup these flights were not performed IFR or on instruments.
- Yes, Tracey Curtis Taylor was the sole pilot on all her expedition flights. She has more than enough flight-experience as well as piloting and navigational skills to perform all of these flights on her own.
It was never planned to copy the historic flights in every detail or to break any historic records, but to celebrate the achievements of the pioneers of aviation by retracing their routes in a beautiful biplane from this era (where politically possible).
Tracey Curtis-Taylor has earned the acknowledgement and awards given to her. Flying such a basic, historic airplane VFR all across five continents (not IFR on instruments and autopilot), is a fascinating adventure and achievement many would dream about. In contrast to the ones criticising her she just did it.
- My role during the expedition from Cape Town to England was initially the reassembly of the airplane in Cape Town and the technical support during the expedition. Additionally I had to take over the flight planning across Africa at short notice, which was done together with the professional African pilots in our team and two major aviation companies. On the following expeditions I took over the tasks of supporting Tracey Curtis-Taylor with all the flight planning and logistics. Besides I am taking care of the technical needs of this airplane, the chase plane, supporting the ground handling, filming and ordering the drinks for the crews in the evenings.
Yes, like others I had the opportunity to enjoy a very special view on planet earth from the front seat of this open cockpit biplane. But I did NOT act as a pilot nor as a flight instructor on these expedition flights.
Besides I had never been Tracey Curtis-Taylor's flight instructor, not before, during or after the expeditions.
- Yes, the flight-planning & logistics of our expedition across Africa in 2013 was problematic.
This expensive and at best disappointing experience was the reason to do all the flight planning and logistics for the following expeditions by ourselves.
The simple fact is: Based on her fascination with historic aviation Tracey Curtis-Taylor was organising all these expeditions and was flying a beautiful old biplane across five continents. Basic hands on flying and basic VFR navigation. Nothing more and nothing less.
On a personal note I want to add that it is very disappointing to see how some are trying to create negative headlines where in reality nothing negative exists - these people are entirely missing the point, the spirit of aviation and adventure...
In contrast to this it was very motivating to experience the great support of the worldwide aviation community, with all their help and positive emotions when another pilot is simply living the old dream of flying (and sharing this dream with others).
In case you have any (serious) questions in regard to the above mentioned items or any other topics, you are welcome to send me an email, to Ewald@stearman.at
3G Classic Aviation Europe
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