Category Archives: Civil Aviation


Litercurious Book Review

Sir Smithy and the Southern Cross
Sir Smithy and the Southern Cross
TitleSmithy – The Life of Sir Charles Kingsford Smith
Author Ian Mackersey
PublisherSapere Book (November 20, 2022)
FormatKindle, Hardcover, Paperback
GenreBiographies of the Air Force / Aviation History
Military Aviation History


Ian Mackersey was a New Zealand writer and documentary film producer acclaimed for his deeply researched and revelational biographies.

A former head of film and television production at British Airways in

London, where his documentaries took 24 international awards, Ian Mackersey, TV documentary producer and the author of ten books, including two novels. He began his writing career as a reporter on daily newspapers in New Zealand before going to London to work in Fleet Street and later as a feature writer for Royal Air Force Review, travelling the world reporting on the RAF’s global operations. There followed a year in Hong Kong as night news editor of the South China Morning Post, the editorship, back at the Air Ministry in London, of the RAF’s flying training magazine, Air Clues, and, later, a move to Central Africa.

In April 2015, after a short illness, Ian Mackersey passed away in Auckland. He is survived by three children; David, Paula and Kiri. Should you wish to make contact regarding their father’s work, please email Paula Mackersey here.

Excerpt taken in parts from


Smithy (1897–1935) is the unvarnished tale of one of Australia’s most famous aviators. The book tells the life story of the first man to fly across the Pacific Ocean. It begins with Charles’ humble beginnings in a large family that was constantly on the move. A fun loving kid, Charles was always the center of attention; something he carried on with his whole life.

Sir Charles was quite a character! Always on the move and trying to entertain family and friends. He served at Gallipoli during WWI. As a motorcycle runner he was almost blown up by artillery. He transferred into aviation after recovering from his wounds, but got wounded and lost part of his foot during a dogfight. That didn’t matter much to him though, flying was now in his blood.

What follows are the many tales of master airmanship, woes of politics, love and loss, wild flights and crashes (many whiles drunk), and many World Record aviation attempts. Smithy is best known for his transpacific flight, but he accomplished so much more. He had to deal with inner demons that haunted him until his dying day; demons that sometimes left him incapacitated while flying. In a day where aviators flew by the seat of their pants, it is astonishing that he was able to fly across great expanses of water without getting so lost that he couldn’t land.

A true master aviator, Smithy flew an aircraft at night in bad weather and turbulence sitting in chairs that were unattached to the airframe and no seat belts. To make matters worse, there was no lighting in the cockpit so he had to use a flashlight to fly instruments. Some of these flights lasted 36 hours! There was no verbal communication between crew-members due to the engine noise so they attached notes to a broom handle and passed them back and forth to communicate. On one flight, Smithy lost one engine over the ocean, and the other was loosing oil. While in flight, one of the crew-members had to go out on the wing and drain oil from the dead engine and then cross the aircraft to the other wing to pour the oil in the running engine. If he hadn’t accomplished this remarkable feat, they never would have made landfall.


This book was truly an inspiration to someone who has been around aviation his whole life. The tales of flying over the ocean through thunderstorms at night with just the rudimentary set of flight instruments in an aircraft with no windows and wicker chairs as pilots seats, still amazes me! As a flight instructor and instrument examiner, I know how hard it is for pilots to accomplish these feats with all the modern equipment we have today.

One of the most hilarious stories was when Smithy had his radio operator and navigator climb into the back of the aircraft so he could make a short-field landing. When he touched down, one of the unfortunate fellows fell through the fabric butt naked on the runway. Smithy unaware of this taxied away and abandoned the poor man out there in front of a massive crowd in nothing but his birthday suit!

The book covers so much more than just the fascinating flights in old cloth and frame aircraft; it also deals with the politics of the times. Not just Australian politics, but world politics; like the time when Smithy got banned from Turkey.

There is so much in this book for an aviation aficionado to delve into. I definitely recommend this book. Ian did a masterful job in his research and writing. I had never heard of Sir Charles Kingsford Smith before I discovered this book, and now I’ll never forget this aviation master and wild character! I had to keep reading merely to see what Smithy would get up to next.

He may have been a womanizer. He may have been an alcoholic, but he was definitely one hell of a pilot!

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.


I would like to thank Ian Mackersey, Sapere Book, and NetGalley for affording me the opportunity to review Smithy – The Life of Sir Charles Kingsford Smith.




Spitfire is an exceptionally researched historical account of 19 Squadron and the Battle of Britain. The information contained within its…

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The Hunt For MH370: The Mystery. The Cover-up. The Truth, Ean Higgins
The Hunt For MH370: The Mystery. The Cover-up. The Truth
TitleThe Hunt For MH370: The Mystery. The Cover-up.
The Truth
AuthorEan Higgins
PublisherMacmillan Australia (February 26, 2019)
FormatKindle, Audiobook, Paperback
GenreAviation History, Commercial Aviation

“Good night. Malaysian Three Seven Zero.

The last recorded radio transmission from MH370’s, Flight’s Captain, Zaharie Ahmad Shah spoken to Malaysian Air Traffic Control (ATC) at 01:19. There was no further communication from the aircraft.


Ean Higgins grew up in Texas and Quebec, before moving to Australia with his Canadian father and Australian mother. He has worked as a reporter, section editor, chief-of-staff and foreign correspondent for Australia’s three national newspapers over nearly four decades. He served his cadetship on the Australian

Financial Review where he was appointed the newspaper’s first New Zealand correspondent, then moved to the Fairfax group’s investigative title Times on Sunday, before joining The Australian in 1988 where among other roles he served as foreign news editor, Inquirer editor, Europe correspondent and Sydney bureau chief. In recent years he has returned to reporting on The Australianfocusing on crime, corruption, politics, aviation and the interplay among them. Higgins holds a bachelor’s degree in international relations from the University of Sussex, and a master’s from the Australian National University. He learned to fly as a young man in Quebec, as a student piloting Cessna 150s on skis in winter. He won a Kennedy Award for Best Online Reporting for his coverage of a bush fire, and a Quebec Grand Prize for Independent Journalism for an opinion piece on language politics published in the French-language national daily Le Devoir.

Excerpt from Macmillan, Pan Macmillan Australia website


In the early morning of 8 March, 2014, Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 took off from Kuala Lumpur International Airport. At the flight controls was 53 years old pilot Zaharie Ahmad Shah and his First Officer, 27 years old Fariq Abdul Hamid. Shah was an experienced pilot with and excellent reputation and extensive experience with 18,423 hours flight time; 8,659 in the Boeing 777-200. He was a Type Rating Instructor in the 777-200 airframe and was a Type Rating Examiner for Malaysia Airlines.

The weather that night was good, but for reason known only to Shah additional fuel was added; more fuel than necessary to cover the normal hours fuel contingency. The excess fuel gave the aircraft the ability to fly for almost two hours longer than the required flight time to the destination.

Around midnight the pilots began their normal run-up procedures beginning with the ‘walk around.’ Once complete, the pilots would gather in the cockpit to go through the Preflight Procedures whilst the Cabin Crew began boarding the 227 passengers that were heading for Beijing. The majority of the passengers were of Chinese nationality with an eclectic and diverse mix of other nationalities.

With the Preflight Checklist now complete and the Oxygen Check finished Shah and Hamid performed the ‘Before Start’ Checklist. Hamid requested pushback and engine start clearance from Kuala Lumpur Area Control Center. The time is now 0040 and Malaysia Flight MH370 taxis to runway 32 Right.

The last item on the ‘Before Take-off’ Checklist is ‘Flaps,’ with the response “Set,” Flight MH370 announced to the tower ‘370, 32 Right for Take-Off.’ The pilots pushed the throttles forward. The engines thrust increased, as did the vibration and speed. At V1 they rotated; and at 0042 local time on 8 March, 2014 Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 carrying 239 souls lifted off on a flight into oblivion. 

The Hunt for MH370 is a detailed analysis posited by author Ean Higgins on the various scenarios that may have led to the disappearance of flight MH370. His opines are aided by expert assessments based on the available data of the likely events that lead up to the vanishing of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370. The author digs deep and reveals facts that were concealed; facts that could have helped locate the missing plane. Higgins seeks to clarify the events that may have transpired during the last flight of MH370. He avoids wild speculation in favor of expert opinions, hard facts and available data. The investigative body that oversaw the search are held to account. A rational well conceived, yet speculative, analysis is given of the events that tragic evening.


The Hunt for MH370 is a mystery encompassed by an enigma. Higgins carefully explored the many possibilities that may have lead to the loss of MH370. He collected and collated data and accounts from a diverse range of involved persons. He creates a plausible assessment of the likely causes of flight MH370’s disappearance using first person accounts, original documents, and international experts that included those from the fields of: aviation crash investigation, professional pilots with decades of experience, engineers (both aviation and oceanographic), as well as satellite data .

What happened to the passengers and crew of Malaysia Flight MH370?Did Shah highjack his own aircraft, kill the crew and passengers, then fly out into the middle of nowhere and ditch the aircraft into the Indian Ocean killing himself in the process? If he did, why did he do it? What was the evidence and why were essential clues to the disappearance hidden even from those conducting the search? Ean Higgins lifts the lid on the mystery and perhaps one day, if-and-when MH370 is found, his analysis might be proven accurate.

The Hunt for MH370 is a compelling read and is never dry or overly technical. It is captivating from the outset and once your attention is secured you will be in for the flight. The narrative is gripping and Higgins writing style ensures that that grip is vise-like. If you enjoy reading real-life mysteries that have yet to be solved and you gain solace from using your own acumen to forge your own opinion; then reading The Hunt for MH370 is a no brainer.

Rating: 4 out of 5.


I would like to thank Ean Higgins, Macmillan Australia, and NetGalley for affording me the opportunity to review The Hunt for MH370: The Mystery. The Cover-up. The Truth.