Featured News Cairns author reveals adventures of pioneering aviatrix

Media Releases

Thu, 16 Mar 2017

Cairns author reveals adventures of pioneering aviatrix

The adventures of Australia's first international aviatrix have been brought to life in a book by James Cook University creative writing lecturer Chrystopher J. Spicer.

In 1928 Jessie “Chubbie” Miller was the first woman to fly, with her friend Bill Lancaster, from England to Australia, outdoing her contemporary, Amelia Earhart, by becoming the first woman to fly more than 8000 miles, crossing the Equator, the South China and Timor Seas and the Australian continent from north to south.

The Flying Adventures of Jessie Keith “Chubbie” Miller came about by chance when Cairns-based author Mr Spicer was researching an earlier book about Hollywood legend Clark Gable.

"I was in a small town in Ohio when someone asked if I had heard the extraordinary story of an Australian woman landing in a field there in 1929," Mr Spicer said.

"I included Miller in my book Great Australian World Firsts, but uncovered so many intriguing unpublished stories about her that I felt she deserved a book dedicated to her career in aviation.

“Miller moved to the United States in 1929 and joined the “Powder Puff Derby”, the first Women’s National Air Derby, where she flew alongside pioneering female aviators including Amelia Earhart, Bobbi Trout, “Pancho” Barnes and Louise Thaden.

“She quickly became famous as a competitor in international air races, as a charter member of the first organisation for women pilots, the Ninety-Nines, and for breaking a number of flight records before she became involved in a sensational murder trial.”

Published by McFarland, The Flying Adventures of Jessie Keith “Chubbie” Miller is available from on-line book sellers, including the publisher, or by ordering from your favourite book store.

Chrystopher J. Spicer has written extensively about Australian and American film and cultural history in such acclaimed books as Clark Gable: Biography (McFarland, 2002), and Great Australian World Firsts (Allen & Unwin, 2012). In 2015, he contributed to Andrew Lancaster’s film about Bill Lancaster and Jessie Miller, The Lost Aviator. He teaches creative and academic writing at James Cook University in Queensland, Australia.

Link to Amazon page:


Link to film about Jessie Keith Miller and Bill Lancaster


To discuss an interview or article, or for further information about the book, contact Chrystopher Spicer at:  chrystopher.spicer@jcu.edu.au or call 0417 660 613.