Sundowner of the Skies The story of Oscar Garden THE FORGOTTEN AVIATOR

Reviewed By  Grasshopper2       July 14, 2019


Author  Mary Garden

Distributor:      New Holland Publishers
ISBN:                 9781760790936
Publisher:         NEw Holland Publshers
Release Date:   June 2019  


Mary Garden has written a biography of her father, which is unusual in several ways. She has researched his family history and learned of his Scottish ancestry, as well as researching the flight he made which should have brought him great notoriety. From her perspective as the daughter of a great Australian aviator, this is a warts-and- all story, which makes it credible and also emotionally revealing for Mary.

Oscar Garden was a Scottish lad from a somewhat dysfunctional family. He seems to have grown up with little understanding of the impact his actions and behaviour had on others. He moved to New Zealand where he bought a garage and ran that for several years. He was well known to the local police for fast and reckless driving. For reasons unknown, Oscar decided to sell his garage and move to Australia even though most of his family were now living in New Zealand.

This was the 1930’s, when aviators such as Ben Hinkler and Charles Kingsford- Smith were taking to the air. Having travelled to England, Oscar, while in Selfridges in London, came across the very plane he felt could carry him from England to Australia. It was a Moth aircraft which had the fuselage made from welded steel tubing. He took the aircraft to Brooklands to prepare for the flight.

There is a detailed diagram and many notes to outline the journey that Oscar made. It was not without many dramas and dangers. At that time, his flight captured the imagination of the world. The extreme difficulties he faced, flying hunched over, in an open cockpit, together with stress and lack of sleep, make his journey seem like a nightmare. Oscar said the greatest difficulty was not being able to eat, and that next time, he would take a case of fruit.

It is a little uncomfortable to learn about this brave, talented young man who was a hero of the skies, and then to see him described as cold and abusive, as well as a very disinterested family man.

Mary has been honest and courageous with all the revelations.