True Story

The Lost Aviator

The True Story of Bill Lancaster

I just want to quickly share with you this trailer for The Lost Aviator, a documentary film by director Andrew Lancaster – investigating the life, flying, murder trial and disappearance of his uncle, Bill Lancaster.

The 90 minute feature was brought to my attention by Chrystopher Spicer, whose The Flying Adventures of Jessie Keith ‘Chubbie’ Miller I’ve just reviewed.

I haven’t seen the film yet, but just watching the trailer brings the history around Jessie and Bill Lancaster back to life with rare photos and footage from throughout their adventures. And that alone makes it well worth the 2 minutes of your time.

Of course, its job is to sell the full feature and it does an excellent job. As I wrote way back when I reviewed Ralph Barker’s Bill Lancaster: The Final Verdict, the story just begs to be made into a movie.

The Lost Aviator

Bill Lancaster joined the RAF at the end of World War One, and served during the 1920s before beginning his epic flight to Australia with Jessie Miller. The pair pursued their aviation celebrity in the States, before being embroiled in Bill’s scandalous Miami murder trial.

A piece of 1932 sensationalism that says it all – the love triangle that saw Lancaster on trial for Haden Clarke’s murder. (
Bill Lancaster in the cockpit of Southern Cross Minor for his fatal Cape Town flight. (

Acquitted, they retreated to England where Bill embarked on record breaking flight from London to Cape Town. His plane disappeared at night, somewhere in the Sahara – his mummified remains and poignant last thoughts lying undiscovered for 27 years.

However, as a direct descendant, Andrew Lancaster went a step further than just telling a great story or making an investigative documentary. He was rattling his own family closet to see if the skeleton that fell out belonged a lost aviation legend or a murderer – or both.

Opinions within the family seem strongly divided, but it looks like they’d have all preferred to let sleeping scandals lie.

More, more, more

The Lost Aviator has just been released on DVD (and my copy’s in the post).

You can read more about the documentary, explore a whole bunch of extra features – including rare photos – order a copy on DVD or BluRay and find it on amazon or iTunes, all via the official website. (Click the link below.)

Andrew Lancaster is a highly accomplished director, and I have every reason to be sure I’ll be impressed by The Lost Aviator when it arrives. I can’t wait.


6 thoughts on “True Story

    1. Indeed. Lancaster led quite a fascinating life and the murder trial is an enduring mystery. To the letter of the law, the Miami jury really only declared ‘reasonable doubt’ rather than Lancaster’s absolute than innocence – leaving people to wonder ever since. The conspiracy theorists must have had a field day for the 29 years between his disappearance and discovery. (Lord Lucan? Are you reading this?)

  1. Sounds fascinating! I’ll definitely check it out. 🙂 It reminds me a little of the Billy Mitchell story.

    So, is the Lancaster bomber named after Bill Lancaster?

    1. Yeah, I’m not sure either many would thank you for the comparison… After all, Mitchell’s vilification was caused by his sense of purpose and honour, while I think Lancaster was operating on a much more personal level. Whether or not he murdered Haden Clarke is impossible to say, but he definitely flew into the Sahara on a quest for redemption.

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