Corey Mead's The Lost Pilots is the saga of two star crossed pilots who soar to the greatest heights of fame, tailspin into scandal and crime, and go the ultimate lengths for a chance at redemption...
During the height of the roaring twenties, Jessie Miller longs for adventure. Fleeing a passionless marriage in the backwaters of Australia, twenty-three-year-old Jessie arrives in London and promptly falls in with the Bright Young Things, those gin-soaked boho-chic intellectuals draped in suits, flapper dresses, and pearls. At a party Jessie meets Captain William Lancaster, married himself and fresh from the Royal Air Force, with a scheme in his head to become as famous as Charles Lindbergh, who has just crossed the Atlantic. Lancaster will do Lindy one better: fly from London to Melbourne, and in Jessie Miller he’s found the perfect co-pilot.
Within months the two embark on a half-year journey across the globe, hopping from one colonial outpost to the next. But like world records, marriage vows can be broken, and upon their landing in Melbourne Jessie and William are not only international celebrities, but also deeply inlove.
Yet the crash of 1929 catches up to even the fastest aviator, and the couple finds themselves in dire straits at their rented house on the outskirts of Miami – the bright glare of the limelight fading quickly.To make ends meet Jessie agrees to write a memoir, and picks the dashing Haden Clarke to be her ghostwriter. It’s not long before this toxic mix of bootleg booze and a handsome interloper leads to a shocking crime, a trial that rivets and scandalizes the world, and a reckless act of abandon to win back former glory.
The Lost Pilots is an extraordinary true story, brought to vivid life by Corey Mead. Based on years of research, and full of adventure, forbidden passion, crime, scandal and tragedy, it is a masterwork of narrative nonfiction that firmly restores one of aviation’s leading female pioneers to her rightful place in history.
Mead (Angelic Music: The Story of Benjamin Franklin's Glass Armonica) revisits a tragic and scandalous interwar romance in this vivid true crime narrative. The prologue, set in 1932 Miami, casts an ominous shadow over the story of William Lancaster, a British aviator, and Jessie Keith-Miller, his "longtime flying partner and lover, and one of the pioneering female aviators of the period." Lancaster is introduced as a defendant in a murder trial, accused of fatally shooting Haden Clarke, Keith-Miller's new paramour. Then Mead flashes back to 1927, when Lancaster and Keith-Miller, both in troubled marriages, first meet in London. After Lancaster mentions his plan to make history with an unprecedented solo flight from England to Australia in a light plane, Keith-Miller volunteers to arrange the necessary financing in exchange for joining him. Their successful venture makes them international celebrities, and they become lovers before growing apart in the wake of professional difficulties. Mead's use of primary sources, including Lancaster's diary and his lawyer's private account of the trial, enables him to craft a age-turner that recreates a time when the people pushing the envelope of what early aircraft could do became heroes.
Outstanding page turner for anyone interested in history and/or flying…both applicable in my case. Well worth the purchase price. Highly recommended!