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'OVER EMPIRES AND OCEANS: Pioneers, Aviators and Adventurers - Forging the International Air Routes 1918-1939' - was published in November 2014 by The Tattered Flag Press.
This a story of pioneers, intrepid aviators, adventurers, tycoons and innovators. It is also a story of dedication and determination, for despite fixed-wing aircraft proving their value over the battlefields of the Western Front during the First World War, convincing governments and public alike that they had a role in peacetime proved far more challenging. The Americans, had briefly courted with a passenger airline across Tampa Bay in 1914, yet it took a further nine years for mail to be flown coast-to-coast. In 1919 a British company made the first international scheduled flight between London and Paris, but the continuation of regular services was thwarted by a less-than-enthusiastic government that allowed its generously subsidised French competition, for a short time at least, to fly cross-Channel passenger schedules unimpeded. The British eventually realised that fast links with their Empire were vital. Robert Bluffield's highly researched and detailed account tells the dramatic stories of explorers such as Kingsford Smith, Lindbergh and Cobham, and flamboyant entrepreneurs, some well known, others forgotten, who risked fortunes and reputations to follow their dreams of reaching and ruling the skies over empires, continents and oceans. Against bewildering adversity, corruption, underhanded deals and dwindling resources, these tenacious individuals braved the elements using primitive, entirely unsuitable equipment to establish earth-shrinking aerial services that criss-crossed the great oceans and the globe's most inhospitable territories. These are the stories of those pioneers - of Aeropostale, CNAC, Air Orient, Imperial Airways, KLM, Deutsche Luft Hansa, Pan Am, SCADTA, The Condor Syndicat, Qantas and others that had a far-reaching impact on the way the modern world would travel.
"IMPERIAL AIRWAYS - THE BIRTH OF THE BRITISH AIRLINE INDUSTRY - 1914-1940"
Published by Ian Allan - October 2009 @ £35.00
226 pages - profusely illustrated
Imperial Airways is a name redolent of the excitement and glamor of the pioneering years of flight. Founded in the 1920s, Imperial Airways flew to destinations all over the world. This beautiful and evocative book on the 'golden age' of passenger flight is the result of years of research, and the text is complemented by a wealth of stunning photographs and ephemera. It will be the most definitive book published on the history of Imperial Airways and the formative years of British commercial aviation. The book begins immediately following World War I with the pioneering companies - Air Transport & Travel Ltd (AT&T), Instone, Handley Page, Daimler Airways and others - and shows how, after AT&T's demise, the remaining three companies were brought together in 1924 to form Imperial Airways. The company continued through difficult times, political uncertainties and fierce competition to open routes to India, South Africa and beyond. This was achieved through the untiring efforts of colorful characters such as Sir Sefton Brancker, Herbert Brackley, George Woods Humphery, Sir Eric Geddes and an array of often eccentric pilots such as one-eyed Ray Hinchliffe and 'All-Weather Mac' Robert McIntosh. The book covers all the various different types of aircraft flying at the time. Often out-of-date and, on occasions, considered to be dangerous, the companies maintained a level of safety and reliability that was sometimes against all the odds. This is especially true considering the lack of navigational aids and other equipment that was available. The story continues with the arrival of the legendary HP 42 airliner, the era of the great flying boats and the experimental 'Mercury-Maia' project when routes across the continents were opened to link the British Empire to the motherland during the period between the two wars. The work will also cover the important role that Croydon Airport played in the history of commercial aviation. The story concludes in 1940 with the formation of BOAC. This is an intriguing story and will represent a journey through time when it could take more than a week to travel by flying boat between Australia and the UK and when passengers flying the near East routes would stay the night at remote desert forts en-route for India.
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Books Reviews - What others are saying about my book
FlyPast - December 2009
" Several have tired to pen a 'biography' of Imperial Airways; until now, none have given it the gravitas and lavish imagery the subject deserves, Biplane airliners, high-class flying boats, Croydon's iconography, Art Deco and inter-war aspirations all make 'Imperial's' era irresistible. The depth of detail here is astounding, but it is not heavy going. The words, tables and appendices are backed by tasteful design and lashings of illustrations showing tickets, publicity posters, timetables, adverts, colour profiles and more. A book to be proud of."
Aircraft - December 2009
Book of the Month
"Imperial Airways was the British government's chosen instrument (for which we read 'flag carrier') formed on 1 April 1924 to operate heavier-than-air services to Europe, the Mediterranean and the Black Sea. It's requirements gave rise to a number of classic British airliners, none more so than the HP42 biplanes and the C-Class flying boats which offered a luxurious standard of travel in the years before WW2. The author's approach to the Imperial story gives as much weight to the requirements that led to the airline's creation, to government policy which shaped it's development and to the inevitable politics that surrounded it as he does to its equipment and operations. The result is as good, thorough and all-embracing a history of Imperial Airways as has yet been assembled between the covers of a single volume. His account is high on anecdotes and interesting asides, including the achievement of Master Denis Lithgow, aged 3½ who flew the 2,350 miles from London to Alexandria in 1929, 'the longest yet journey made by a child'. The photo selection is good, often striking and decently reproduced, although in his introduction the author laments that unrealistically high reproduction fees have prevented the inclusion of some images he would otherwise have used. There are several appendices including a table of major crashes (of which there were quite a few). a bibliography and an index , although the latter's usefulness is limited by its only cross-referencing 'people'. Of necessity, all the historic photos used are black-and-white; the cover shot (a moody depiction of Short Kent G-ABFC Satyrus at anchor) is yellow-tinted and none the worse for it. However the inclusion of full colour shots of various ephemera such as timetables, cigarette cards, baggage labels and maps does nothing to convince the reader that is - or ever could be - a 'colour volume'."
Denis J Calvert
Aeroplane - January 2010
Book of the Month
"Over the years there have been a number of books dealing with the early days of the British airline industry, as shown in this book's extensive biliography, but most are no longer available so this new tome is most welome.
Beginning with the years 1914-1919, it covers the lack of government interest in civil aviation following World War One and early pioneering flights carrying mail, some RAF aircraft being used for passengers before proper commercial flying began. Similar work in other countries is included, plus the beginnings of British air services by Handley Page, Instone and others.
An interesting diagram shows Croydon Airport's development from 1915 to 1939 and in 1924 Imperial Airways was born and routes were extended beyond Europe, with surveys to Cape Town and the Middle East. In 1926 Alan Cobham surveyed routes to Australia, while in 1929 a service to India was begun using DH 66s. The HP 42 arrived in 1930, an aircraft which for many symbolised Imperial Airways - it was big and slow but comfortable.
Flying-boat services began using Short Calcuttas and Kents, later the famous Short Empire series, and so the story progresses through arrangements with Qantas and Railway Air Services, the introduction of monoplanes such as the DH Albatross, Armstrong Whitworth Ensign and Lockheed Electra up to the outbreak of War. There is an impressive nine pages of fleet lists and an appendix of major incidents involving British registered passenger aircraft during 1919-40 and a bibliography and index of people completes the book.
Excellent photographs throughout, colour facsimilies of timetables,cigarette cards, routes, maps and advertisements, plus coloured side-vew drawings of various types, make this a book to treasure. Three minor errors were noticed: on page 128: Breguet F-AIXY was a 280T not 08T: page 139 shows an HP 42 head-on, not a Scylla (compare with the cigarette card of Scylla head-on on page 153) and on page VI the River Medina is on the Isle of White, not Calshot. Mike Hooks - Five Star Rating
REVIEWS FROM PEOPLE WHO HAVE PURCHASED THE BOOK ON AMAZON
4 Nov 2009
"This is a quality book indeed.The weeks of work taken to write,collect information research photographs has been worthwhile ! Anyone with interest in Aviation should buy it for its a book one can read through again and again."
|| (Aberdeen) -
5.0 out of 5 stars
From Mrs R J Withers 2 January 2010
Excellent title ... 5 stars
"It was purchased as a gift for a pilot and he was impresed by the content-that takes some doing!"