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, who is calling himself an “insider” (which he simply is not, see below). Hired as a logistics manager for the first expedition, most of his tasks had soon to be taken over by others. Since then he is spreading wrong information in the internet and aviation circles, with the aim to discredit the successful expeditions and Tracey Curtis-Taylor in person. Recently his misleading story had been published unverified in the tabloid press.
Here are the corrections to his wrong information and allegations:
- 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. This is a requirement for flying into controlled airspaces, like around international airports. 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. 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 local 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.
- Yes, in contrast to the information published, I have responded to all questions which I received by email and phone, to any media and those who were interested in the true background information. But I am not taking part in the nonsense discussions on certain forums, where the above mentioned person and his friends are pursuing a private vendetta against Tracey Curtis-Taylor by publishing wrong information and conspiracy theories. Besides many postings are showing that they have very limited knowledge about (this kind of) aviation and expeditions.
No, nobody was hiding from the public and there are no mysterious persons involved. Yes, all the sponsors as well as the world media and audiences on all continents were continuously informed about the above mentioned details and progress of the expeditions.
- No, the planning & logistics of our expedition across Africa in 2013 did NOT run well at all: This person (and his expedition company) was hired as a logistics manager for the flight from Cape Town to England by the film producer. But we had serious troubles with the services he was paid to perform: flight planning, fuel positioning, documentation, facilitation of filming, and at some places even the safety of the eight team members on ground and in the air. In the end the crew lost all confidence in him, the route was altered and the cooperation with him was terminated earlier than planned.
These facts can independently be verified by the professional team members as well as the two major aviation companies, supporting us in Africa.
Based on this expensive and at best disappointing experience we did all the flight planning and logistics for the following expeditions by ourselves.
On a personal note I want to add that it is very disappointing to see how someone is trying to create negative headlines where in reality nothing negative exists - a sad example of envy and malicious defamation. Another reason for discrediting the others expeditions could also be the attempt to boost his own company or planned projects.
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.
In case you have any more questions in regard to the above mentioned items or any other topics, you are welcome to send me an email, to Ewald@stearman.at
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