If you like aviation and its history, this is a great book. If you like the bygone era of flappers and Prohibition, this will be a fascinating read. If you like tales of adventure, danger and daring, this book will lure you in. If you like romance and a love triangle with a suicide—or a murder—this book will be entertaining. “The Lost Pilots” is non-fiction that reads like fiction.
Corey Mead has written a thoroughly researched book about all these interrelated topics. He weaves everything together and provides an amazing history of aviation. Aviation from post World War I through the Depression was dangerous.There were crashes and fatalities. Accidents and malfunctions of planes could take weeks and months to fix.
The pilots were the heroes of the day, that era’s rock stars and celebrities. And fame was fleeting. There was constant pressure to beat this or that record of flying farthest and/or fastest in the lightest plane. “The Lost Pilots” story revolves around Jessie Miller and Bill Lancaster.
Jessie was one of several well known women pilots, truly a pioneer who was impulsive and loved adventure. She exuded confidence in a male dominated world. She was savvy with the press, knowing she and Bill would get publicity and much needed funding because she was a woman co-pilot. Their adventure was also scandalous because they were both married. Bill had joined the RAF, the world’s first air force. His strengths were confidence and the ability to fix anything. He was also daring and adventuresome.
The author chronicles their first flight from London to Melbourne which took six months. From this start, their tale evolves. They had to scramble and scrape to get sponsors and money for future flights; they also had to earn money for day-to-day living.
The pair had an ill fated turn when Bill was hired to fly for Latin America Airways, which turned out to be a human trafficking and drug scheme. They also had their own crashes and near death escapes; they survived by their wits.
Then an author wants to write their story. This morphs into a love triangle that culminates in a tragedy that forces Bill to try and win back his former glory. A surprise ending caps off this fun, exciting read—one that would make a marvelous movie. Enjoy.