On a Wing and a Prayer
“In 1934, Melbourne’s Lord Mayor announced a London-to-Melbourne air race to celebrate his city’s centenary. The audacious plan captured imaginations across the globe: newspapers and magazines everywhere were filled with it; the world’s pilots scrambled to get sponsorship; and the organisers scrambled to get the rules straight and permission to fly in foreign air space. Sixty-four entrants from eleven countries signed up, but only twenty planes eventually took off on 20 October 1934. The winner arrived in Melbourne seventy-one hours later—but three planes crashed and two pilots died in the attempt.”
I’m not 100% sure what I expected in this book. I initially didn’t pick it up to read because I thought it was a fiction novel and it triggered memories of Jackie Chan’s film, Around the World in 90 Days. However, when I finally picked it up I found an interesting non-fiction about an event I’m sure many people know nothing of!
While the blurb tries to draw in a reader with the fable of Albury saving the Uiver, this is really quite a small portion of the book. The book is written sensitively and clearly, and deals fairly with all of the pilots in the race. Not only does it have the details of the race, it also has the back story and the endings (ie. ongoing lives and deaths of those involved in the race). As usual for many of Text’s books, there are some beautiful colour photographs reproduced lovingly to illustrate and bring the characters to life.
This book is going to suit anyone with a love of engineering, planes and Australian history! It’s written in a nice engaging manner, and even someone like me who can’t care less about history can enjoy it. It’s a very suitable present for the plane fanatic in your life.
Text Publishing | 3rd September 2021 | AU$32.99 | paperback