The Fabulous Flying Mrs Miller: An Australian's true story of adventure, danger, romance and murder (Paperback)Carol Baxter (author)
- Coming soon
Jessie Miller was known to one and all as 'Chubbie' (she weighed barely 100lb). When she met Bill Lancaster in London in June 1927, he was hoping to become the first person to fly a light plane from England to Australia. Chubbie, Australian by birth, offered to help him raise the funds if he would take her along and teach her how to fly. He reluctantly agreed - he was a married man with children, but no money.
On 14 October 1927, the pair took off from Lympne airfield aboard a small biplane christened the Red Rose. They reached Egypt in two weeks, then Baghdad in early November. They forged through whipping rain, sandstorms and a near-plunge into the shark-filled Arabian Sea. The shark episode was so harrowing that that evening on the ground Lancaster and Miller made love for the first time, in a survivor's high under the Persian stars.
The trip got tougher after that. They were dogged by engine problems, shot at by tribesmen. Airborne out of Rangoon, Miller discovered a poisonous snake at her feet and wrenched the control stick free as the only available club. They barely managed to reinsert it and regain control of the plane. Soon after, their luck ran out. A blocked fuel line sent them crashing into an island jungle off Sumatra, and though they survived with minor injuries, and were afterwards well entertained by the British colony in Singapore, they were stranded for weeks waiting for replacement parts. Another Australian pilot, Bert Hinkler, grabbed the chance to beat them to Australia.
Chubbie's relationship with Lancaster was tempestuous and he was later charged with murdering one of her lovers in one of the most notorious trials of the 1920s. Nonetheless she earned a place in the pantheon of early aviators as the first woman to complete an England-to-Australia flight and for her participation in the Powder Puff Derby of 1929.
In the 1920s she was an international celebrity and thrill seeker. Her wild ride of a life is a wonderfully exhilarating story.
Publisher: Allen & Unwin
Number of pages: 376
Dimensions: 234 x 156 mm