The First World War is over and air mechanic Wally Shiers has promised to return home to his fiancée, Helena Alford. But Wally never reckoned on charismatic fighter pilot Ross Smith, and an invitation to compete in the world’s most audacious air race.
A ₤10,000 prize has been offered for the first airmen to fly from England to Australia. Smith is banking on an open-cockpit Vickers Vimy, a biplane with a fuselage that looks ominously like a coffin.
And who can resist a hero? Wally writes to Helena to say he won’t be home for another year – and the love of his life is left holding her hand-stitched wedding dress and fighting back her shame...
Using war diaries, letters and Churchill Fellowship research from along the race route, Long Flight Home recreates one of the most important – and largely forgotten – chapters in world aviation history.
Anderson’s ambitious and moving novel is told through her narrator, Wally Shiers. The tale spans the decades and crosses the globe, and at his journey’s end we’re left peering down from an open cockpit on two beacons of truth. There is no heroism without honour. There is no legacy without love.
Wakefield Press. RRP: $29.95
"This is a wonderful tale, superbly told. And it all happened!"
- Peter FitzSimons
“I was really drawn into the characters and drama. It makes you feel like you are there with them. And it really captures what it must have been like to fly in the Vimy. A grueling experience to say the least. Congratulations Lainie, this is a magnificent achievement. Now, the next step is the movie!”
- former NASA astronaut Andy Thomas
"Adelaide journalist Lainie Anderson recreates one of the most daring and dangerous flights in aviation history. In 1919, a huge cash prize was offered for the first pilot to fly from England to Australia, and there was no shortage of takers. A great tale of escapism ..."
- Michael Rowland, ABC TV Breakfast
"For aviation enthusiasts, this book has an outstanding atmospheric sense of what it was like to fly in that era. Still, what lingers is the love story with its strength in war and endurance. While Wally Shiers may be seen the daring hero, the quiet waiting of his fiancee was in its own way, heroic as well."
- Christopher Bantick, The Weekly Times
"Long Flight Home retells the story of Sir Ross and Sir Keith Smith, and their journey from England to Australia in 1919 in the Vickers Vimy. I had the pleasure of officially launching this must-read book by Lainie Anderson tonight. We are so lucky to have this incredible piece of aviation history here in South Australia, which will soon be proudly displayed in the new Adelaide Airport terminal."
- South Australian Premier Steven Marshall
"Anderson’s choice of Wally Shiers as the storyteller is the real success of the novel and the feature that makes it a compelling read. It is her first book and the result is impressive."
- Greg Weller, WINGS
"Adelaide-based author Lainie Anderson brings to life the characters of the 1919 Air Race from England to Australia, including pilot Ross Smith and air mechanic Wally Shiers..."
- Alasdair McGregor, Australian Geographic
"Perfect holiday reading!"
- Greg Mackie OAM, History Trust of South Australia CEO, The Adelaide Review
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