A LIT­TLE FLIGHT READ­ING

The Weekend Australian - Travel - - TRAVEL & INDULGENCE - GRA­HAM ERBACHER

THE FLY­ING KAN­GA­ROO Jim Eames

(Allen & Unwin, $29.99)

If you still call Aus­tralia, still call Aus­tralia, still call Aus­tralia home, this one’s for you. The cover of The Fly­ing

Kan­ga­roo prom­ises “great un­told sto­ries of Qan­tas … the heroic, the hi­lar­i­ous and the some­times just plain strange”. Author Jim Eames, a former di­rec­tor of pub­lic af­fairs for the air­line, de­liv­ers in spades. He doesn’t set out to record a his­tory of Queens­land and North­ern Ter­ri­tory Aerial Ser­vices from its for­ma­tive days in the early 1920s. Rather, he tells yarns about an air­line that “took a baby-boomer gen­er­a­tion to the world and home again”.

Buckle up for tales of der­ring-do, pub­lic duty (in the af­ter­math of Dar­win’s dev­as­ta­tion by Cy­clone Tracy in 1974, for ex­am­ple) and fun. Eames re­counts the story of chief pi­lot Alan Ter­rell fly­ing prime min­is­ter Gough Whit­lam across the Pa­cific. The flight plan in­cluded an early-morn­ing re­fu­elling stop at Honolulu, up­set by a last-minute re­quest from the city’s mayor to meet the es­teemed Aus­tralian. Whit­lam asked the pi­lot what dress at­tire he should as­sume. “At five in the morn­ing in Honolulu … they’ll be in shorts, Hawai­ian shirts and long socks,” Ter­rell pre­dicted. Gough duly dressed in bright sports shirt and light slacks. As they ap­proached the ter­mi­nal, Ter­rell “was aghast to see a conga line of of­fi­cials, all dressed in lounge suits and ties”. Whit­lam never again took the pi­lot’s sar­to­rial ad­vice. There’s also a cloak-and-dag­ger tale about the then Diana Spencer be­ing smug­gled out of Syd­ney on the eve of her en­gage­ment to Prince Charles, with the world’s press in pur­suit. Pic­ture the fu­ture princess hop­ping into the back seat of a Toy­ota Corona (with two oth­ers) on a sub­ur­ban street cor­ner, and be­ing whisked to the safety of QF1 to Lon­don. Eames’s story stops short of mod­ern times. It’s a warm rec­ol­lec­tion, as he puts it, of “the good years”.

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