About the Book 'Boy Phoenix'

Boy Phoenix is a tribute to a young and debonair Australian aviation pioneer: one who strove to bring air travel to the public eye - locally and globally. Jimmy Melrose and his peers dared to believe we could all fly.

Jimmy was the golden-haired boy of his era. People recognised in him a model citizen and a devoted son. His sole focus was the betterment of aviation. Yet he was a shy person and shunned the trappings of celebrity.

This book places Jimmy Melrose where he belongs: as a national symbol of those adventurous days in the air.

Who was Jimmy Melrose?

Born in 1913, Jimmy Melrose grew up in Adelaide. Encouraged by his devoted mother, Hilda, he embarked on an aviation career while still in his teens.

At the age of 20 he flew solo around Australia in record breaking time. At 21, he flew solo across the world – and back again. He became an overnight sensation after his success in the unprecedented 1934 Centenary Air Race from UK to Australia, flying his beloved DeH Puss Moth.

Handsome yet modest, at 22 he had the world at his feet.

Diary below reproduced by kind permission of the Civil Aviation Historical Society of South Australia

About Jimmy’s Planes

VH-UQO, A high wing monoplane. Fabric covered steel framed fuselage, inverted Gipsy Major engine. Constructor's # 2089. 284 built. Record flights around Australia 1934; 1934 Centenary Air Race.

VH-UVH, A low wing design by Australian Edgar Percival. Constructor's # D.57. 29 built. Searched for Charles Kingsford Smith November 1935, some footage of which taken by Jimmy, can be seen opposite.

VH-AJM, A high wing monoplane, wooden fuselage, plywood covering. Upholstered seating, modern design with retractable undercarriage, 'N' struts to wings. Constructor's # ½. 6 built.

'My Hildergarde' - VH-UQO

  • DeHavilland Puss Moth DH80A
  • DeH Gipsy Major 130 hp
  • WING/BODY: 36' 9" / Length 26' 3" Height 6' 10"
  • CAPACITY: 80 gallons fuel & 4 gallons oil
  • FLIGHTS: Adelaide to London to Adelaide

'Westley' - VH-UVH

  • Percival Gull Four
  • DeH Gipsy Major 130hp
  • WING/BODY: 36' 2" / Length 24' 11.5" Height 7' 3"
  • CAPACITY: 50 gallons fuel & 3 gallons oil
  • FLIGHTS: London to Adelaide

'Billing' - VH-AJM

  • Heston Phoenix
  • DeH Gipsy Six 200 hp
  • WING/BODY: 40' 4" / Length 30' 2" Height 8' 7"
  • CAPACITY: 50 gallons fuel & 3 gallons oil
  • FLIGHTS: London to Adelaide

About the Author

Helen Blake has always loved reading and research. Having completed Boy Phoenix, she is now addicted to writing and is already researching her next book. Like Jimmy Melrose, she lives by the sea in Adelaide, South Australia, her home state.

Photography Credits

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