About Richard Halliburton:
Born January 9, 1900, in Brownsville, Tennessee, Richard Halliburton was an adventurer and author. His father was a civil engineer. Richard’s family moved to Memphis when he was young. His favorite school subjects were geography and history, but he also enjoyed golf, tennis, and he played the violin. He attended Princeton University and served as chief editor of The Princetonian Pictorial Magazine.
After leaving Princeton, Halliburton served as a seaman aboard a freighter bound from New Orleans to Great Britain. A brief tour of London and Paris whetted his appetite for world travel. His father begged him to return to Memphis and adjust his life to “an even tenor.”
“I hate that expression”, Richard responded, expressing the view that distinguished his life-style, “and as far as I am able I intend to avoid that condition. When impulse and spontaneity fail to make my way uneven then I shall sit up nights inventing means of making my life as conglomerate and vivid as possible…. And when my time comes to die, I’ll be able to die happy, for I will have done and seen and heard and experienced all the joy, pain and thrills—any emotion that any human ever had—and I’ll be especially happy if I am spared a stupid, common death in bed” (Quote from the Wikipedia page on Richard Halliburton.)
Halliburton was a prolific letter-writer, sending over 1,000 letters just to his parents. He had intended to write an autobiography. His letter were used to write a biography, which was partially edited by his father.
He is best known as being the first person to swim across the Panama Canal. Halliburton paid the lowest toll in the canal’s history – 36 cents. On March3, 1939, Halliburton set sail on The Sea Dragon, a 75-foot Chinese junk ship. He went missing at sea and was declared dead on October 5, 1989 by the Memphis Chancery Court.
About The Flying Carpet: Adventures in a Biplane
(from the paperback edition’s description at Google Books)
How did Halliburton get the idea for The Flying Carpet: Adventures in a Biplane?
The book chronicled Halliburton’s adventures aboard his plane, The Flying Carpet, and was inspired by his quest to “one day be remembered as the most traveled man in history.”
His wanderlust could be attributed to a strong influence from Oscar Wilde’s book, The Picture of Dorian Gray, with the idea of experience the moment before it vanishes. He had also encountered other world travelers, such as cinema star Douglas Fairbanks Sr.
Opening paragraph of The Flying Carpet:
Ten thousand feet above the California hills. The airplane sailed through the sky with the ease and grace of a seagull. It hurdled the clouds, soared over the mountaintops, dived toward the sea, and skimmed the waves. Two sets of gleaming golden wings extended on either side of the scarlet body. The motor and cowling were shining black; the tail was as gold as the wings. And down each side of the body stretched a golden band, bearing in small black letters a name – The Flying Carpet.
Quote by Richard Halliburton:
- “We are born strangers in a strange land, and remain so. Travel simply reminds us of this essential truth. The transmission of a powerful story, one human to another, is an alchemical activity in which we are enlarged and changed.”