Corsairville: The Lost Domain of the Flying Boat

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9780140253481: Corsairville: The Lost Domain of the Flying Boat

It was the obscure legend of the flying boat Corsair, rescued from the Belgian Congo in an epic salvage operation, that fired Graham Coster's quest for the lost world of the flying boat. Coster's journey begins in Southampton, from where Imperial Airways' "Empire" boats departed to fly up the Nile on their way to South Africa, and takes him to the flying boats' old haunts in Uganda, Kenya, Malawi and Zimbabwe, from Lake Naivasha to Victoria Falls. More than a travel book, this text is a piece history, and a journey to a vanished age when air travel was truly an adventure that could change your life.

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Review:

In March 1939, the flying boat (aka seaplane) Corsair crashed in the Belgian Congo. The accident spawned an absurd rescue operation: teams of engineers were sent out to one of the remotest corners of Africa, roads were hacked through the jungle, and a salvage operation was launched.

In Corsairville, Graham Coster sets out on a journey through Africa, Florida, Alaska and the Caribbean, seeking out this piece of vanished history and interviewing those who were involved in this operation. He also comes across many who still remember their journey on a flying boat as one of the most thrilling events of their lives. Just as much a history of the flying boat as a travel narrative, Coster cleverly juxtaposes people's memories with the sad tale of the brief flowering of a golden age.

The fondness in which flying boats are still held leads Coster to contend that they now represent an age when the act of travel was thrilling and wonderful, and had not been reduced to the sort of commodified trash which now seems to accompany all journeys. These memories 'were about countless individual destinies, times when history itself happened to people'.

While Coster recognises that some of the attitudes that accompanied flying boats patronised the former British colonies in an appalling manner, he nevertheless evokes a genuine sense of loss at the decline of these early wonders of aeronautical engineering, and has written a book which will appeal even to those who are not remotely interested in aviation. --Toby Green

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Coster, Graham
Published by Penguin UK (2001)
ISBN 10: 0140253483 ISBN 13: 9780140253481
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Coster, Graham
Published by Penguin UK
ISBN 10: 0140253483 ISBN 13: 9780140253481
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