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Beyond the Blue Horizon: On the Track of Imperial Airways

4.34  ·  Rating details ·  114 ratings  ·  13 reviews
In Beyond The Blue Horizon Alexander Frater reveals and relives the romance and breathtaking excitement of the legendary Imperial Airways Eastbound Empire service—the world's longest and most adventurous scheduled air route. Written with an infectious passion, this is an extraordinarily original and genre-defining piece of travel writing by one of our most highly respected ...more
Paperback, 430 pages
Published 2005 by Picador USA (first published 1986)
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Sep 14, 2015 marked it as abandoned
I picked this up to read after finishing my other book yesterday, but I'm afraid I couldn't get into it at all. The premise of it is lovely - following the route taken by the Imperial Airways Eastbound Empire service which flew from London to Brisbane, taking a total of 2 weeks to complete the journey! It was the golden era of air travel with comfortable airlines, amazing service and over-night stops in top class hotels.

Frater sets out to follow the route and to re-trace its steps. However as th
Jul 25, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Have read it twice in the last 5 years. Discovered a copy in the attic and reading yet again. As vivid and enjoyable as ever!
Jan 09, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A nostalgic look at aviation history full of charming anecdotes such as the one about Captain Ivan "The Turk" Smirnoff, a White Russian who had been a Tsarist Air Force ace before escaping from the revolution in a cattle truck and ending up as a pilot for KLM. One story made me sad: the author writes of his visit to the English department at Denpasar University Library in Bali where he found that the U.S. Information Service had donated 14 copies of The Story of Kit Carson, five Complete Pan Am ...more
J Root
Feb 26, 2021 rated it really liked it
Excellent telling of an interesting journey out to Australia via the old 'Empire Air Route.' Very well written with plenty of detail of the ports of call and the people and places therein. This is an old book and particularly interesting when describing the Gulf States when they were still fairly sleepy backwaters, before their massive building- enlargment phase. ...more
Timothy Auger
Feb 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: re-reading
I am currently re-reading this, having first read it many years back. It was first published in 1986, and was a nostalgic read even then. Now, 1986 is 30+ years ago, and so the book is nostalgic on two levels. It will make a lot more sense to someone who has travelled the world to some degree, and knows a bit about the history of the places Alexander Frater passes through; it will make even more sense to someone who has an interest in the history of civil aviation, and is fascinated by those fea ...more
Lee Belbin
Feb 02, 2016 rated it liked it
If you are interested in early aviation history, this is an entertaining read. The author, a journalist, travels over the old Imperial (sic) Airways root from London to Brisbane. The exploits of the early pilots are fascinating and highlight the changes in speed, safety if not always comfort from the present day. I had never heard of the ditch across the deserts in the middle east, but having piloted myself in the semi-desert of Australia without any useful nav aids, it made me smile. Good bless ...more
Dec 18, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: aviation fans
Shelves: library_books, travel
A great travel narrative, though perhaps a bit geared towards aviation history fans; moreover, I had difficulty at times realizing that Frater had switched from the past back to the present-day trip.

Solid writing, but my advice would be to read Tales from the Torrid Zone: Travels in the Deep Tropics first (it's still in print), and then Chasing the Monsoon (probably a bit tougher to obtain).
Jonathan Northall
Jul 15, 2014 rated it liked it
Like the tortuous journey it tells the numerous stories of, "Beyond the Blue Horizon" is just as difficult to read. However, just as worthwhile as the journey in 1930's was then reading this book is just as rewarding. Full of intricate aeronautical detail, intertwined with stories of Imperial's history, it's infused with Mr Frater's contemporary reenactment. It's not a light read but a read that is physically demanding. ...more
Apr 15, 2010 is currently reading it
Just started and I know I'm really going to like this... ...more
Feb 07, 2012 rated it really liked it
Travelling was both much harder and much more adventurous, personal and luxurious at times. This book is a delight of those who like a bit of nostalgia.
Oct 20, 2015 rated it really liked it
It took me a while to read this book, his voice is not the easiest to get but once you do even this nice but mundane topic became a joy to read.
Chris Nielsen
Sep 23, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Entertaining but could have done with being 100 pages shorter
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Alexander Frater has contributed to various UK publications--Miles Kington called him "the funniest man who wrote for Punch since the war"--and been a contracted New Yorker writer; as chief travel correspondent of the London Observer he won an unprecedented number of British Press Travel Awards. Two of his books, Beyond the Blue Horizon and Chasing the Monsoon, have been been into major BBC televi ...more

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