TEAL's Coral Route — an interesting history

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TEAL's Coral Route — an interesting history

Postby Kiwithrottlejockey » Thu Mar 24, 2016 7:58 am

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Coral Route: Tasman Empire Airways Ltd, Flying Boats & the South Pacific” by Gerry Barton and Philip Heath is a recently-published book I would highly recommend … I have had a copy of it in my possession for a couple of months and I have read it from cover-to-cover.

You may recall back in October 2013 when I got to climb onboard the Solent flying-boat at MOTAT to take a heap of photographs, which I then posted to this group in THIS THREAD.

Gerry Barton was the conservator who gave me permission to enter the Solent and take those photos. At the time he told me he was working on a book about the Coral Route and that he was going to expose a few romantic myths and distortions about the Coral Route service which could result in a few toes being trodden on. I gave him info on how to get in touch with Geoff White (long-retired TEAL/Air NZ pilot who flew the Solents at the start of his airline career), but he never did, so I presume he lost the details I gave him. However, I did receive an email alerting me to the impending publication of the book late last year, so placed an early order and received a copy when it became available from the printers.

If you are after a “count the rivets” account of the Short S.45A Solents Mk.4 flying-boats, then this book isn't for you, but if you wish to know more about the social history of TEAL's Coral Route, including interaction with the various island communities it served, as well as a number of interesting tales relating to operating the service (including navigation across the South Pacific), then you'll find this book a very interesting and fascinating read. The book is lavishly illustrated, including pictures of the many advertising posters used by TEAL to promote the service. Numerous personal photographs from former crew members are also included. This book (hardcover) is a seriously good read. And the well-publicised incidents of passengers being left behind in the Cook Islands and elsewhere when Solents became unserviceable are all covered in considerable detail, including a few incidents which aren't generally known about.

I haven't seen the book in any bookshops in New Zealand since it was published (although it must be out there, and Geoff White's daughter-in-law tells me she has seen it at the National Library of NZ bookshop), but you can order it directly from the publisher HERE. The price is NZ$45, but you can also obtain the book at a discounted price from Fishpond HERE, although they only keep a limited number of copies in stock, so sometimes you have to wait until they have replenished their stocks.
Kiwithrottlejockey
 
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