Full of colourful personalities and atmospheric detail, the book is a highly enjoyable journey to the heart of a great airline by an outstanding journalist and travel writer. Richly illustrated in colours.
A great Hill dominates Hong Kong's Kai Tak Airport. The shifting light seems to give it a life of its own and the Chinese call it Lion Rock.
In a narrative as stirring as an action novel, the bestselling author of Slow Boats to China, Gavin Young, tells the thrilling story of one of the world's greatest international airlines: Cathay Pacific Airways. From the swashbuckling early days when two intrepid pilots started a supply route across the dangerous Eastern Himalayas in a battered war-time transport DC3 to the present day when almost five million passengers a year are carried by a giant fleet of jumbo jets between thirty-five countries, this is a remarkable story of true courage, enterprise and adventure.
The dream of an intrepid Texan entrepreneur and pilot, Roy Farrell, and an Australian air ace, Syd de Kantzow, who met during World War II while flying (and tiger hunting) in Bengal, Cathay Pacific was born in Shanghai in 1946 when Farrell touched down in his beloved war-survived DC3 'Betsy' with a cargo of morning coats and toothbrushes from New York. In a post-war world hungry for commodities, their enterprise flourished and grew, soon 'Syd's pirates' were flying routes throughout the Far East, facing every kind of danger and discomfort, from civil war to the first air hi-jacking in history. Absorbed in 1948 by the old-established family shipping firm of Butterfield & Swire, one of the Noble Houses of Hong Kong, Cathay Pacific began its spectacular climb to international fortune and fame under the patriarchal Jock Swire. Gavin Young describes in fascinating detail the building of this 'empire of the air': the battles, and setbacks, the tragedies and triumphs. He reconstructs some of the most dramatic moments of those years, from the shooting down of a passenger plane by Chinese fighters over Hainan Island in July 1954 to the horrific mid-air explosion over Vietnam in July 1972 which claimed eighty-one lives and saw a Thai policeman brought to trial for mass murder.
Beyond Lion Rock looks at Cathay Pacific's history, from the pioneering days of Boys' Own exploits to its coming of age in the 1960s and the spreading of its wings to every corner of the world. In 1987 it was voted International Airline of the Year. Full of colourful personalities and atmospheric detail, the book is a highly enjoyable journey to the heart of a great airline by an outstanding journalist and travel writer.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Gavin Young spent most of his youth in Cornwall and south Wales. He studied modern history at Oxford University and spent two years with a shipping company in Basra, Iraq. Later he lived with the Marsh Arabs in southern Iraq and then in the plains and mountains of south-western Arabia. As the Observer's chief foreign correspondent from 1960, he covered fifteen wars and revolutions. He was also the Observer correspondent in Paris and New York.
Gavin Young's first book, Return to the Marshes (1977), describes his adventure in Iraq with the Marsh Arabs who inhabit the ancient lands of Sumer and Babylonia, and was the basis of a BBC film in 1979. His second book, Iraq: Land of Two Rivers, an account of a journey through the historic landscape of Mesopotamia, was published in 1980. Gavin Young then travelled round the world by whatever waterborne transport he could find at the time. The story of that extraordinary voyage was told in his next two bestselling books, Slow Boats to China (1980) and Slow Boats Home (1985). Gavin Young's most recent book, Worlds Apart is a collection of pieces, most of them written for the Observer, that summon up more than twenty years of travel and adventure in some of the world's most remote and exciting places. He is now at work on a book about Joseph Conrad's Asian world. Gavin Young is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature.