THE SKY BEYOND by Sir Gordon Taylor


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Sir Gordon lends a stunning coolness to his personal accounts of aerial derring-do from 1916 to 1951. An Australian, he enlisted in the Royal Flying Corps with dreams of glory. His first flight was in a two-seat trainer with an instructor who gave him not a word of instruction and kept him landing and taking off for two hours while Sir Gordon sat horrified. Once over the British front in France, he discovered that British fighter aircraft were thoroughly inferior to German and that if he wished to stay alive he had to think about it every instant. When he shot down his first plane, his sense of glory faded into weary sadness but a new dream of the fresh possibilities of air travel settled upon him. Thus was born a great pioneer aviator. Dangerous exploratory peacetime flights followed, including the first West-East crossing of the Pacific from Australia. On one fearful trip in 1935 he had to force himself to crawl out on the wing to his dead starboard engine, drain its oil into a coffee thermos, and crawl to the opposite, failing port engine. In 1942 he once again flew actively for the R.A.F., as a bomber pilot. Constantly exciting and replete with understated moments of giddy courage. Recommended.

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin