Mackersey, Ian

Mackersey, Ian

In Brief

Ian Mackersey is a writer of fiction and non-fiction. He is also a documentary filmmaker and a biographer. He has an extensive background and interest in areas of aviation and aviation history. Mackersey wrote his first four books while living in London in the 1950s. His famed biographies are Jean Batten: The Garbo of the Skies (1991), Smithy: The Life of Sir Charles Kingsford Smith (1897-1935) (1998), and The Wright Brothers: The Remarkable Story of the Aviation Pioneers who Changed the World (2003).

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Mackersey, Ian (1925 - ) is a writer and documentary film-maker; his speciality is aviation biography.

Born in Wellington, Mackersey began his career as a writer for The Dominion and later the New Zealand Herald. He learned to fly in Rotorua and in 1948 left for England to join the RAF. On arrival he chose instead to continue his career as a journalist, and worked as a feature writer for the Royal Air Force Review. Mackersey then spent a year working in Hong Kong as night news editor of the South China Morning Post. Returning to London, he became editor for six years of the RAF’s flying training journal, Air Clues, and joined the RAF Volunteer Reserve as a part-time pilot.

In London in the 1950s Mackersey wrote his first four books - three non-fiction and one novel. The non-fiction titles were two aviation stories, Rescue Below Zero (Robert Hale, London and WW Norton, New York, 1954) and Into the Silk: True Stories of the Caterpillar Club (Robert Hale, London, 1956), and a sea story, Pacific Ordeal with Captain Kenneth Ainslie (Rupert Hart-Davis, London and WW Norton, New York, 1956). The novel was Crusader Fox King (Robert Hale, London and Henry Holt, New York, 1955).

In 1958 Mackersey went to live in Central Africa where, in Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) he worked as a magazine editor and, later in Zambia, as the producer of a documentary film unit. In 1965 Mackersey returned to London as the head of the British Overseas Airways Corporation’s (later British Airways) film and television production. While at British Airways Mackersey wrote his first biography, Tom Rolt and the Cressy Years (M & M Baldwin, London, 1985).

In 1983, after a 35-year absence, Mackersey returned to New Zealand to make television documentaries as an independent director. His work on a programme about Jean Batten led to the commissioning of his second biography, Jean Batten: The Garbo of the Skies (Macdonald, London, 1991). Two more aviation biographies followed: Smithy: The Life of Sir Charles Kingsford Smith (1897-1935) (Little, Brown, London, 1998) and The Wright Brothers: The Remarkable Story of the Aviation Pioneers who Changed the World (Little, Brown, London, 2003).

Mackersey’s biographies have all been well received. A critic at London’s Daily Mail writes about Jean Batten: The Garbo of the Skies, ‘Glued to this book for two whole days I find it impossible to over praise a story which reads like a superior detective novel while bringing a totally new depth of understanding to this extraordinary woman’. Another critic, writing about the Wright brothers’ biography in the Independent says, ‘Mackersey, an excellent writer as well as a keen flyer, handles his subject with the assurance of long familiarity, painlessly easing the tyro into basic aerodynamics and the history of early flight … reads like a particularly exciting novel’.

Ian Mackersey lives in Auckland.

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Updated January 2017.