'Australian aviators Charles Kingsford Smith and Charles Ulm made the first trans-Pacific flight in 1928 in an aircraft constructed largely of timber and fabric, the Southern Cross. With Americans Jim Warner as radio operator and Harry Lyon as navigator, they made the trip from Oakland, California, in nine days, facing electrical storms, torrential rain, equipment breakdowns, fuel shortages and the ever-present fear of engine failure. Navigational aids were primitive; contact with the outside world was by Morse code only; safety measures were non-existent. After many close-calls, they landed triumphantly in Brisbane, where a crowd of 15,000 welcomed them as heroes.
'Throughout this extraordinary journey, Ulm kept a logbook in which he recorded his raw impressions of the flight. His entries, brief and to the point, give a striking sense of immediacy and authenticity, and a selection of facsimile pages from the logbook forms the basis of Flying the Southern Cross: Charles Ulm and Charles Kingsford Smith.
'Using logbook entries, the airmen's memoirs, contemporary newspaper accounts and official documents, supplemented by a range of historic photographs, historian Michael Molkentin gives a gripping account of that epoch-making flight and its aftermath. He takes readers into the Southern Cross, a place where courage, skill and endurance could, with luck, outweigh the fearful risks of a long air journey. Above all, he brings to life the airmen themselves, four very different men who made aviation history.' (From the publisher's website.)