The Man who saved Smithy
by Rick Searle
Published by Allen & Unwin
RRP $33.00 in paperback
I got this book late last month from the publishers Allen & Unwin. I know this is not the usual military history fare, but it keeps popping up – this book featured in the latest editions of both Australian Flying and Flightpath magazines. (My wife Judy is publisher of both those magazines as well as Australian Defence Magazine.)
Steve Hitchen, the editor of Australian Flying, is full of praise for the book, especially as Steve attended the announcement by the Aviation Hall of Fame that P G Taylor, the man who is the subject of the book, is to be inducted into the Hall of Fame this year.
As a fighter pilot during the First World War, Patrick Gordon ‘Bill’ Taylor was awarded the Military Cross and discovered a life-long passion for flight and air navigation. Returning to Australia after the war, he became a close friend of Charles Kingsford Smith; they went on to form an incredible flying partnership, setting records around the globe.
It was on a flight across the Tasman 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 and another fast running out of oil, Taylor repeatedly climbed out of the cockpit to transfer oil to the stricken engine and keep the Southern Cross flying – all this while suspended over the sea in a howling slipstream.
After the deaths of his friends Charles Ulm and Kingsford Smith in separate accidents, Taylor became Australia’s greatest surviving aviator, pioneering vital new trans-oceanic air routes during the Second World War and receiving a knighthood in honour of his services to flight.
The Man Who Saved Smithy is a terrific read and clearly a book that’s going to appeal to a wide cross section of the aviation fraternity.