A Man Among Mavericks Cover

A Man Among Mavericks

Lester Brain: Australia’s greatest aviator

Neil Cadigan

ABC Books

This is the remarkable story of possibly Australia’s greatest aviator.

Like most of us, author Neil Cadigan had never heard of Lester Brain when he stumbled upon this little-know aviator while lunching with a mate who was friends with Lester Brain’s son, Robert. Starting with nothing but a long-forgotten transcript of an interview with Brain, Cadigan set off on an astonishing journey, retracing flights across the unpredictable terrain of Australia. He discovered a man whose amazing flying adventures read like a Boy’s Own annual. From prospecting for gold reefs in the Tanami Desert, to rescuing the hapless aviators Anderson and Hitchcock, who went missing while searching for Kingsfod Smith and Charles Ulm, to making the first scheduled flight for Qantas in 1925, Brain was always ready to take up a challenge and combine work with his love of flying. In 1929 he was rated the best aviator in Australia. Lester Brain also instructed many of Australia’s first-rate pilots, rescued survivors during a Japanese attack on Broome during World War II, took the controls for inaugural mail and flying-boat services for Qantas, and contributed more towards the world-renowned safety record of Qantas in its formative three decades than any other aviator. This inspiring story of adventure, passion and the thrill of following a dream illustrates the life of one of Australia’s true quiet achievers.