The Man Who Saved Smithy by Rick Searle

The Man Who Saved Smithy

By Rick Searle

  • Release Date: 2015-08-01
  • Genre: Australia & Oceania
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Patrick Gordon 'Bill' Taylor was a pioneer of Australian aviation. As a fighter pilot during the First World War he won the MC. His wartime flying was the start of a life-long career during which he would use aircraft to pioneer air routes across several oceans. Returning to Australia after the war he became a close friend of Charles Ulm and Charles Kingsford Smith. Taylor and 'Smithy' went on to form an extraordinary flying partnership, making the first commercial mail flight to New Zealand, the first crossing of the Pacific in a single engine plane and many other records. It was on a trans Tasman flight in Smithy's famous Southern Cross that Taylor earned the Empire's highest award for civilian bravery, the George Cross. With one engine out of action with a broken propeller, and another fast running out of oil, Taylor repeatedly climbed out of the cockpit to transfer oil and keep the Southern Cross flying - all this just metres above the sea in a howling slipstream.

After the deaths of Ulm and Kingsford Smith in separate accidents, Taylor became Australia's greatest surviving aviator. He went on to discover an alternative air route to Europe that avoided South East Asia - something that was to prove vital after the Fall of Singapore and Java in 1942. After yet another pioneering flight to Chile, he was knighted for his services to Australia and global aviation.

Taylor died in 1966, and during his lifetime wrote eight books on various aspects of his life and on flying. Rick Searle has the permission of the Taylor family to use Taylor's published and unpublished material to further illustrate his thoroughly researched biography. The result is a compelling account of an Australian pioneering aviation hero who deserves to be recognised alongside his far more famous colleagues, Kingsford Smith and Ulm.