Renowned for his sheer bravery and unrelenting determination in the air, Mollison was the first to cross both the North and South Atlantic oceans alone (in 1932 and 1933, respectively) and was the first person to fly solo from the United Kingdom across the Sahara to the Cape of Good Hope.
Born into a Scottish middle-class family at the beginning of the century, Mollison joined the Royal Air Force at age eighteen, soon becoming its youngest qualified flight instructor. Before his record-breaking solo air crossings he was in turn a bohemian in Tahiti in its pre-tourist days, a Bondi beach attendant, and a would-be speedway rider in Adelaide before transporting mail and passengers for Australian National Airways in the 1930s.
David Luff chronicles these adventures as well as Mollison’s equally audacious not-so-private life – most notably his whirlwind romancing of eighteen-year-old Lady Diana Wellesley just before his marriage to famous aviator Amy Johnson. Mollison’s marriage to Johnson and their flying partnership in the 1930s aroused the frenzied adulation usually reserved for British royalty. Offering a balanced picture of a deeply flawed man whose extramarital interests and other exploits fixed him in the public eye as a debt-dodging, drunken womanizer, Luff restores this extraordinary man to his proper place among aviation’s pioneers.