ALEX HENSHAW - A flying legend
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Compiled by Michael Turner
This book is a unique collaboration between flying legend Alex Henshaw and artist Michael Turner, blending paintings, photographs and the subject’s own narrative into a captivating celebration of his remarkable life in the air from 1932 to 1948. There were three phases to his flying: his headline-making competitive exploits pre-war, culminating in a London-Cape Town-London record that still stands; his vital war work testing aircraft, first for Vickers-Armstrong at Weybridge and then for Supermarine at Castle Bromwich; and his post-war activities throughout Africa. Each significant episode of those years has its own chapter, from learning to fly in a de Havilland DH 60 Gipsy Moth to a final long-distance African trip in a Miles Gemini. This is a very special book that all aviation enthusiasts will treasure.
- Touring and racing (de Havilland Leopard Moth): “We both shouted with delight when the waves pounding the sheer cliffs of the Isle of Man first showed up, and we did a ninety-degree turn over the lighthouse to cross the finishing line at Douglas.”
- Baptism of fire (Arrow Active Mk1): “I breathed a sigh of relief when the inferno passed under my feet, so close that I could hear the flames crackle and roar like a power-driven forge.”
- Taking a ducking (Miles Hawk): “The instant the aircraft touched the water it was like hitting a solid concrete wall. I shot from my comfortable seat like a rocket.”
- Into war (Vickers-Armstrong and Supermarine): “I was no stranger to the sea and all its various moods, but I had a great deal to learn when testing aircraft in turbulent conditions of high winds and foaming waves.”
- Testing years (Spitfire and Lancaster): “I was making notes on my knee pad as I dived steeply through a shallow layer of stratus when suddenly oil and glycol spewed over the windscreen, with the engine vibrating so severely that it could wrench out of the frame at any second.”
- Crocodiles at dusk (de Havilland Dove): “The possibility of crashing on top of impenetrable jungle with no hope of rescue or of avoiding the swarms of ants, or even worse to land on one of the numerous sand islands in the middle of a crocodile-infested river, was something I dared not contemplate.”
- ISBN: 978-1-910505-50-2
- Format: 297x347mm hardback (landscape)
- Page extent: 160
- Illustration: 30 paintings and drawings, 315 photographs
The artist Michael Turner first met Alex Henshaw in 1979 when he was invited to produce a painting for the dust jacket of Flight of the Mew Gull, the first volume of Henshaw’s memoirs. Over the next 28 years the two men developed a close friendship deriving from the creation by Michael of a unique series of paintings recounting the stories of the many dramatic and interesting incidents in Henshaw’s flying career. Their collaboration eventually led to this book, originally published as an exclusive edition in 2008, soon after Henshaw’s death, and now made available for the first time to a wider audience. Turner, a long-time president of the Guild of Aviation Artists, continues to paint not only aviation subjects but also scenes of motor racing, for which he is equally esteemed.
“I knew this book was going to be good but it’s a true masterpiece – the best book in my collection.”