Elaine Forrestal

On Wings of Steel

CTP (Charles) Ulm and Charles Kingsford Smith (Smithy) by William Dargie

Ever since the idea of writing about the adventures of CTP (Charles) Ulm and Charles Kingsford Smith (Smithy) presented itself to me I have been agonising over what to call the manuscript. I had labelled the document on my computer ‘Those Magnificent Men’ knowing that I couldn’t, and in fact didn’t want to, actually use it as the title for the book. It was just a way of locating the document on my screen. After nine months and at least as many failed attempts, I have at last come up with something I am prepared to call the manuscript.

On Wings of Steel may turn out to be a working title only, but I like it because it brings together, in just a few words, the contrasting notions of fragility and toughness. It suggests mankind’s primeval longing to fly and his many attempts, throughout history, to construct wings for himself. It also hints at the lines of steel that both Smithy and Ulm had running through their veins. It took enormous courage, determination, skills painfully acquired and incredible amounts of patience to fly where no man had ever flown before. These remarkable men, whose given names were the same, had different strengths and weaknesses but they complimented each other. Smithy was gregarious, charismatic, a daredevil performer. Ulm was meticulous, serious and a canny business man. But they were great mates.

Stay tuned to find out more about their dreams of flying and the profound effect their toughness and perseverance has had on the way we live today.