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's the dawn of a new decade: 1960. Archie, a young RAF pilot looking for pastures new, gets a job with an airline based in Singapore. His older colleagues are of the war-time generation, trained to complete the mission, almost regardless of cost. But it's now peacetime and the new mantra is maximum safety.
Unfortunately, the tools of the aviation trade in the early 1960s were primitive by today's standards. Scarcely a week went by without the wreckage of an airliner appearing on the front pages. Archie's initial workplace was the Bristol Britannia, a sedate looking aircraft that hid some of the strangest designs ever to grace the skies. Add the constant threat of the tropical rainbelt and you have an environment that can hardly be described as friendly.
This is a story of people who worked in the 'teenage years' of the airline industry: the pilots, engineers and cabin crew; the entrepreneur who got the airline off the ground; the ageing aviatrix, with progressive ideas, in charge of personnel. It's also a story of the struggle to rebuild Singapore after the ravages of war; and to navigate the thorny path from being a colony to independence.
The action radiates from the airline's base at Singapore: to Calcutta, Karachi, Phuket, Darwin and Australian outback. Finally, Archie has to face a problem that still tests pilots 50 years on: Coffin Corner.