A British pilot flying across the U.S. to commemorate the nation’s airmail pioneers crashed her Stearman in the Arizona desert recently, halting the journey until the biplane is repaired. Tracey Curtis-Taylor, who earlier this year flew the 1942 Stearman from the UK to Australia, said in a Facebook post she’s determined to get her aircraft, Spirit of Artemis, flying again and continue the route from Seattle to Boston, perhaps next year. Curtis-Taylor and a passenger walked away from the crash, which occurred after a fuel stop in Winslow, Arizona.
Curtis-Taylor cited high density altitude as a factor in the crash, as Winslow’s elevation is 5,000 feet. In an interview with the CBC, she said she had just flown through the region and over the Grand Canyon, “so this was nothing untoward.” However, the Stearman lost power soon after takeoff and “started to sink,” she said. Turning left to avoid power lines, she landed the biplane on the sand, but rolled over a thick bush that ripped off the right gear and the aircraft cartwheeled. Repairs will take place in Hungary, where the original restoration of the Stearman took place.