Flying Boats and Spies

Gramma Trixie’s Review

I loved this book. It took me back to my youth, reminding me of the excitement we felt in the age of flying ships.

When I was a girl we would wait for hours to see one land, never knowing for sure what time it would arrive, listening expectantly for the first distant drone of engines that would signal her arrival.

Then the graceful majesty as she touches down, the spray, the sound. Arriving from afar in days rather than weeks, the mysterious passengers were like movie stars to us and the crew were supermen.

This book, Flying Boats and Spies, sent me back to that time in my memories and thoughts. It is a good read, about a young feller called Nick who loves flying and ends up in all kinds of strife.

Is it called a “landing” when a flying boat touches down? I had no idea then and I still don’t. But this book will take you to places of the imagination and you can come up with your own answer.


A review from Amazon

Just finshed reading Flying Boats & Spies… excellent stuff.

First thoughts… I particularly liked the fact that Duke was out surfing (having visited “Dukes” myself, and seen the pics on the wall). I’ve always enjoyed Oahu, and very nice to revisit the place with Nick.

Also, nice the way that Nick got to actually fly in the Clipper. That was a very natural progression.

I have always liked stories where, if someone chips in, works hard and does their best, the universe tends to take care of them. Sure, there might be trials and tribulations, but they are looked after. Ok, it doesn’t always work quite like that in the real world, but then that’s why we read books. Full marks for FB&S in this regard.

Also, the value of money is a useful lesson of the age that was handled nicely. Perhaps not something the Lindberghs might have had to think about much but certainly everyone else did. In one context the whole Clipper thing was a rich man’s amusement, but it was nice that Jamie showed it was built on the sweat and blood of real, hard working people.

I thought it was quite interesting that the author brought in the Naval Intel bit at the end, with an overview of the geopolitical realities of the time. Nicely in context and added real value to the book in opening young eyes to the broader country-v-country issues that have shaped so much of our history.

Aside from all that, it is just good fun. Golden Age aviation (beautifully described, both the machines and the people), tropical islands, adventure, romance and intrigue. A great package. So, that is a resounding “well done” to author Jamie Dodson. I enjoyed it, and I know my kids will too. I am looking forward to discussing some of the questions it will raise when they read it.

I am also looking forward to the movie (particularly the explosions!).

Flying Boats and Spies by Jamie Dodson

From the back cover…

1935! The winds of war have begun to fan the flames of conflict across the Pacific. As Nick Grant tries to support his mother and sister during the depression, he’s swept into a deadly contest between spies struggling to control the Pacific Ocean.

Nick’s life abruptly changes the moment Anne Lindbergh offers him a month’s wages to deliver a mysterious map case to Bill Grooch aboard the tramp steamer, the SS North Haven. Desperate for money, Nick agrees. Suddenly the map case and Grooch catapult him into a quiet, but deadly cat and mouse game between US and Japanese spies. Nick becomes a vital player in a mission spanning the Pacific Ocean: a mission vital to US security as well as a mortal danger to Japan.

Visit the author, Jamie Dodson, at his website,, for loads of great background info on the golden age of flying boats, and his next book “China Clipper”.

Jamie’s books are also available from Seawings and Flying Clippers, two fabulous websites filled with info about flying boats.


Author: Gramma Trixie

Gramma Trixie was, in her day, a pilot who made many courageous flights in a biplane. She was also a school teacher and today shares her love of language and aviation by telling us about some wonderful new books. Check out her Books section for her book reviews.

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