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THE MAN WHO SAVED SMITHY

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Here are two excellent biographies about two little known Australian, who, because of their exploits on the world stage, should be much better known, and celebrated. Rick Searle writes, in great detail, about Sir Gordon Taylor, “fighter pilot, pioneer aviator, hero”, and in particular he retells the story of the daring way in which he saved Kingsford Smith and himself in the stricken Southern Cross. Repeatedly in a dark night, with a howling slipstream, Taylor climbed out on to the wing and transferred oil from one engine to another, thus enabling them to land safely.He had won the Military Cross in the first world war, and now he was awarded the George Cross for his outstanding bravery. From the rudimentary training in learning how to fly, Sir Gordon Taylor (known as Bill) became the best known aviator in Australia his well earned knighthood was given for his services to flight. The second book tells of the adventures of George Ingle Finch, an outstanding mountaineer, who conquered just about every mountain in the world, and almost reaching the summit of Everest with the Mallory expedition of 1922. He was an early advocate of oxygen as an aid to perilous climbing, and he invented an early light puffer-type jacket , enabling climbers to be much more flexible on their dangerous routes. The boy from Orange in New South Wales was never really accepted by the elite “gentlemen” climbers in Europe, though he worried him not one whit. He was a born climber, and a born rebellious maverick of the most endearing sort. Both biographies quote extensively from the adventurer’s own writings, and both have photographs to add substance to these fascinating lives.

THE MAN WHO SAVED SMITHY by RICK SEARLE

PUBLISHED by ALLEN & UNWIN for a recommended $32.99

MAVERICK MOUNTAINEER by ROBERT WAINWRIGHT

PUBLISHED by ABC BOOKS for a recommended $32.99