CHARLES LINDBERGH

Ron Davies has not only written the text but drawn the maps showing Lindbergh's travels (I am told he is a keen cartographer) and designed the book layout. Aviation artist Mike Machat researched and depicted the aircraft.

'WHAT A HANDSOME BOOK,' remarked Pilot's publisher, James Gilbert. I would agree; it is uncommonly well illustrated and designed. Ron Davies has not only written the text but drawn the maps showing Lindbergh's travels (I am told he is a keen cartographer) and designed the book layout. Aviation artist Mike Machat researched and depicted the aircraft; he even went so far as to obtain the details of the colour scheme of Lindbergh's Robertson Air Mail D.H.4 from one George Rutledge the man who painted it in 1926.

Clearly, the reader is in for a visual treat but does the (necessarily rather limited)volume of text match the standard? It does; having read A Scott Berg's definitive, 600 page biography (reviewed Pilot, April 1999), Leonard Mosley's nearly as long 1976 biography and digested at least half of Lindbergh's own Wartime Journals, I was impressed by how much information Ron Davies manages to get across. There is a decent index too, something all too often missing from much thicker books.

The declared intention was to concentrate on Lindbergh's extraordinary flying achievements before, and especially after, the much-written-about solo New York to Paris flight. This is done to excellent effect. I thought I had a pretty good idea of what the man had achieved, Ron Davies showed me I didn't! His maps, in particular, reveal just how far Lindbergh ranged in his airborne travels. It is one thing for other writers to have simply recorded the fact that he took the Spirit off on a goodwill tour of the USA after returning from Paris in 1927 and quite another to be shown where he went and how quickly he progressed. The far ranging North Atlantic survey flights he made for Pan American with his wife Anne in their Lockheed Sirius were quite something too…

The book includes many photographs I'd not seen before, as well as facsimile period advertisements, airmail covers etc. I liked Mike Machat's aircraft profiles, but the modellers amongst our readers will curse the absence of any plan views. Ron Davies’ maps and little sketches are lovely freehand things that put computer aided graphics to shame.

A super book, complementary to the great biographical volumes and if you were only allowed, or could afford, one book on the man perhaps the best single choice for a book on Charles Lindbergh, the aviator. Philip Whiteman.

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