Boston: Little, Brown & Co., 1934. Single volume, measuring 7.5 x 5 inches: , 285, . Original blue and orange cloth, top edge stained yellow, clipped color-printed pictorial dust jacket supplied from another copy. Bookplate of Amelia Earhart to front pastedown; Earhart's ink ownership signature to front free endpaper. Faint tidemark to base of front free endpaper, edgewear and chipping to dust jacket, spine panel toned.
First edition of this popular American aviation novel -- “hard-boiled in spots, racy in dialogue, speedy all the way” -- from the library of Amelia Earhart. The hero, short-fused maverick Dan Howard, works his way up from mechanic to pilot, secretly engineering a propeller with the potential to transform the aviation industry. In the novel’s climax, told through the breathless patter of a radio announcer, Howard completes a round-trip solo transatlantic flight, flying from Newark to Croydon (where he eats a plate of English roast beef) and then directly back to Newark, a stunt made possible by his revolutionary propeller. In the crowd awaiting his return are “all the birdmen and ladybirds in the world,” including “Lindbergh and Hawks and Doolittle and Amelia Earhart and Ruth Nichols and Byrd:” “I must say they all seem as surprised as we are, account of Howard's guarding his wunnerful secret the way he did until to-day.” This copy of Big Flight belonged to “ladybird” Amelia Earhart, the first woman to complete a one-way solo transatlantic flight, which she accomplished in fifteen hours in 1932. In 1936, the American Dick Merrill would pilot a round-trip transatlantic flight, but with a layover of a week in England (rather than a meal). The dawn-to-dusk circuit described in Big Flight remained firmly in the realm of fantasy in the 1930s, inviting speculation on Earhart’s response to the novel’s plot and to her role as awed spectator within it. A very good copy, with a great association.