The exotic at home

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  • Published 20060804
  • ISBN: 9780733316715
  • Extent: 232 pp
  • Paperback (234 x 153mm)

EARLY IN 1982, when I had just finished Fly Away Peter and was writing back and forth to my publisher at Chatto about how it was to be published, I wrote an afterword to the book. It was an account of my experience with the world of birds and of my early discovery of flying.

At 21, I had spent five days on a hunting trip to the Valley of Lagoons in Far North Queensland, a vast waterland swarming with game birds of every description. Earlier I had discovered something of the wonder of flight. On my seventeenth birthday, in 1951, I had joined the University Air Squadron, was taken up in a Tiger Moth and, on our first camp at Amberley Air Base, outside Ipswich, had spent a good deal of my free time, when I could inveigle one of the officers in the mess into taking me, on one of the flights that in those early days after the war were still being made in the big wartime Liberators. These flights covered most of southern and Central Queensland and I got used to seeing, laid out in a map below me, a world I already knew at ground level. I took it in turns with my friend GS to hunch in solitude in the rear gun turret under the tail, where there was nothing between me and the landscape below but a thin wall of Perspex and empty air.

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