The Shirley Flight Air Hostess Series

The Shirley Flight Air Hostess Series was written by Judith Dale and Trudi Arlen and was published in the United Kingdom by World Distributors during the 1960s.  Judith Dale is a known pseudonym of author Edward Reginald Home-Gall, and it is safe to say that he wrote most if not all of the books in the series which are credited to Dale.

The Shirley Flight Air Hostess Series is the British counterpart to the Vicki Barr Flight Stewardess Series.  One difference in the Shirley Flight books is that they are longer in both page number and word count per page than the Vicki Barr books.  Another difference is that the Shirley Flight books are much more exciting, and Shirley faces much more dangerous situations than Vicki Barr does.  After having read only a few of the books, I get the idea that Shirley must ruin at least one uniform per book!

Titles in the Shirley Flight Series:

  1. Air Hostess
  2. The Diamond Smugglers
  3. Desert Adventure
  4. In Hollywood
  5. The Flying Doctor
  6. The Great Bullion Mystery
  7. Congo Rescue
  8. The Rajah's Daughter
  9. Hawaiian Mystery, 1960
10. In Spain, 1960
11. Pacific Castaways, 1960
12. Fjord Adventure, 1960
13. Flying Jet, 1961
14. Storm Warning, 1961
15. Chinese Puzzle, 1961
16. Canadian Capers, 1961

Due to the exciting nature of the stories, this series is better than the Vicki Barr series.  The extremely detailed descriptive nature of the Shirley Flight books is also a plus, but sometimes the descriptive nature does go too far.  For instance, during Congo Rescue, nearly 40 straight pages of text describe the history of the African jungle in great detail.  While interesting, the description, approximately 20% of the entire book, is a bit too much, and after about 15 pages of it I became impatient for the story to continue and skimmed through the rest of the jungle lore.

Shirley Flight is an air hostess for Transcontinental Air Lines during most of the books in the series, but occasionally Shirley takes on temporary work on other airlines.  Shirley's best friend is Wendy Moreland, an impulsive redhead who works as an air hostess for the same airline.  Other recurring characters are Captain Morley Clifford and First Officer Tony Luckworth, who is in love with Shirley.

All of the books in this series seem to be about equally easy or difficult to obtain, meaning that it is generally no harder to acquire the later titles as it is the earlier titles. It appears that the books all went through the same number of print runs and that multiple titles were issued simultaneously.  Oddly, the volume which was hardest for me to acquire was volume 1.

Four short stories featuring Shirley Flight were published in the Cherry Ames Girls Annuals.  Three of the stories are credited to Judith Dale, and one story is credited to Trudi Arlen.

Shirley Flight stories from the Cherry Ames Girls Annuals

Cover Art Gallery

The below summaries are adapted from the dust jackets.

  #1 Shirley Flight, Air Hostess

Ever since her schooldays Shirley Flight has dreamed of becoming an air hostess—it is her burning, driving ambition, and to this end she directs all her activities, until at last she believes herself sufficiently qualified to apply for a post with Transcontinental Air Lines.

She is accepted—conditional upon her passing successfully the training course designed to coordinate a girl's abilities into that person from whom air passengers expect so much—that highly-accomplished, highly-skilled, cool and smiling person—the AIR HOSTESS.

Shirley does pass—but not before she encounters a thrilling adventure that is not on the schedule, and one which is not finally solved until she makes her first flight to Italy.

This is the first story in the SHIRLEY FLIGHT series, and will appeal to all those girls who share Shirley's ambition to follow the exciting career of an air hostess.
  #2 The Diamond Smugglers

An Air Hostess never knows what kind of people she is likely to meet on her next flight.  She can expect anything—and gets it—from the V.I.P. to the little child traveling home.

An "unaccompanied child" is the air hostess's special charge and claims priority attention.  It is on her first flight to Holland that Shirley meets this particular type of "V.I.P.," and as usual she is determined to make a thorough job of it, and see that little Bobby, delivered into her care by his grandmother, is safely handed over to the uncle who will be awaiting him at Amsterdam.

But even before they board the plane, trouble starts.  It almost appears as though someone is making attempts to kidnap the little boy.  The journey itself is an uneasy one, and though many mystifying incidents arise, it is not until Shirley ushers the little boy through Customs and delivers him to those awaiting his arrival, that she finally realizes how she has been tricked and duped.

A most thrilling and exciting story, with a breathless adventure set against the background of an air hostess's life.
  #3 Desert Adventure

A group of people, all strangers to each other, all traveling by air to the other side of the world on their own particular business, are crossing, en route, the mysterious and sometimes sinister East, and ministering to their comfort, is Shirley Flight, Air Hostess on the Transcontinental Air Line.

They are a very mixed bunch.  The selfish ex-chorus girl, traveling to the East to marry a wealthy, elderly Indian Prince; the famous young singer and the manager who is exploiting him; the crank who is carrying her campaign across the world; and the timid, shrinking woman who is joining her husband in a remote jungle country . . . to all of them Shirley extends her helpfulness and charm, to which they respond—or don't respond—in their own individual manner.

And then the unexpected happens—a forced landing, due to a severe electric storm—in the middle of a cruel, empty desert . . .

Empty?  That is only to Western eyes, but in the East, where intrusions are resented with fierce passion, the desert is never empty . . .

The passengers and crew find themselves prisoners with no means of escape!

  #4 In Hollywood

It is the most exciting moment of Shirley Flight's career as an Air Hostess when she is transferred to an American Air line on an exchange basis, to gain experience.

But the biggest thrill—and shock—comes when she finds herself on the New York-Hollywood route, with Hollywood's newest and most popular star, Margo Tremayne, as a passenger.  For, as the lovely star approaches the plane, surrounded by a host of pressmen, photographers and fans, and watched over by her manager, she suddenly comes face to face with Shirley, gasps, and to everyone's astonishment flings her arms about Shirley and greets her rapturously, by name.

How can this glamorous actress know Shirley by name?  Shirley is dumbfounded to learn that Miss Tremaine is one of her old friends from flight school!

From that moment on, Shirley, dazed and bewildered, finds herself flung into a maelstrom of mystery and intrigue, set against the background of the world's most fabulous and best-known city, Hollywood.
  #5 The Flying Doctor

When Shirley has her young friends the Moffat boys in her charge en route to Australia, she thinks that one pair of eleven-year-old twins is enough to manage.  Knowing them of old, she expects trouble, and isn't surprised to find herself rushing off to rescue them from difficulty.

But imagine her astonishment when she discovers that she has "rescued" the wrong pair of twins . . . only to find that these two are also in her special care.

And from that moment on there is not a moment free of anxiety for the young air hostess on board the Australian air liner.  For the newcomers are no ordinary children.  It makes a tremendous issue to several people not to have them arrive at their destination . . . while Shirley is duty-bound to see that they do!

  #6 The Great Bullion Mystery

Not only is the flight to Canada remarkable for the fact that it is to be made in a flying-boat, but also because it is carrying half-a-million pounds' worth of gold bullion.

But it is not to be expected that such a transfer should escape the notice of those who live by their wits, although of course, that is none of Shirley's business.  In fact, her attention is completely taken up by her passengers—particularly the invalid Mrs. Dellery, the fussy old lady who takes such a fancy to Shirley that when they land at Reykjavik she makes up her mind that she wants to keep Shirley with her—for always!

Shirley cannot decide whether to trust or distrust Mrs. Dellery.  While Mrs. Dellery seems friendly, she skillfully draws out Shirley's entire life's history.  Why is Mrs. Dellery so interested in Shirley's past?

It is not until after it is too late that Shirley realizes the truth—Mrs. Dellery is a skillful actress who takes Shirley's place as air hostess.  Shirley must use all her wits to convince her crew of the terrible deception and stop the bullion heist.
  #7 Congo Rescue

Never has Shirley embarked on a flight with a sadder heart than she does on the North Africa to Cape Coloney route.  Shirley has recently learned that the liner upon which her dear friend Wendy was traveling along the same African route has been reported overdue at its destination.

Shirley is ill with worry but nevertheless determined to perform her duties as air hostess.  When Shirley becomes acutely ill in mid-flight, and her crew decides to make an emergency landing, she weakly protests, wishing to inconvenience no one.  Regardless, the plane lands in a small mission village in the jungle country, and the mission doctor operates on Shirley, thereby saving her life.

It is not Shirley's way to stay under for long, and soon she is finding new friends and working hard to help the doctor heal the sick.  Shirley continues to think of Wendy, hoping that she will stumble upon a clue during her daily walks in the forest.

One day Shirley helps a small native boy, whose mother is deathly ill.  As a reward the boy gives her his most prized possession, an ashtray on which is embossed the logo of the Transcontinental Air Line.  Shirley is exultant—finally, Shirley has the one clue she needs in order to find her beloved friend Wendy!
  #8 The Rajah's Daughter

India, the land of mystery and fascination, of taboos and caste, where superstition and tradition still shackle the spirit of millions.  Shirley's current assignment is in mysterious India, and with her old friends Wendy Moreland and Tony Luckworth in the crew of the air-liner, she feels she is in for a most interesting trip.

How interesting it is to be she can't guess—not until she meets the Rajah's daughter, Wazira, the lovely sixteen year old who is the heiress to vast treasures and territories, the betrothed of a Prince, whom she has no desire to marry.  Wazira befriends Shirley and asks her to help her escape from India and an unwanted marriage.  Unfortunately, Wazira's request is overheard by the wrong ears, and Shirley and Wendy find themselves held hostage by Wazira's father.

Shirley and Wendy must find a way to escape—and maybe if they are lucky, they can find a way to help Wazira as well.
  #9 Hawaiian Mystery

Blue skies, the perfume of ginger flowers, and the music of guitars greet Shirley Flight on her arrival at Honolulu Airport with a party of V.I.P. passengers and her companion hostess Hana Ailau, a pretty young Hawaiian.

But Shirley soon finds that this island paradise is tainted with evil when the ancient feather cloak of King Kamehameha, the first ruler, is stolen from its sealed container.

The crew and passengers of Shirley's flight were the last people to view the cloak before it was stolen and so suspicion falls upon them all—Captain Scott, Bud Ritchie the radio officer, millionaire eccentric Elias Deacon, Professor Lee Bateman, Doctor Rose Wade, and Commander Brady, R.N.

Through this anxious time Shirley and Hana explore the Islands, and at the same time come up with some peculiar questions to which they eventually find the answers.  Exactly who is Melissa Prescott?  What is Doctor Wade trying to hide?  And, why is Elias Deacon so secretive?

Amid many adventures, music and laughter, the sound of surf on an island beach, Shirley stumbles upon the answer to the mystery, and by a trick of fear compels the thief to confess.

  #10 In Spain

Shirley Flight, Air Hostess, looks forward to the holiday in Spain—a free and easy Charter Flight with Juan Hidalgo as the pleasant host.  The guests include Barbara Philips, beautiful and wealthy; Arthur Belmont, London manager of the Hidalgo Wine Importing House; and his vivacious secretary, Lyn Naylor.

But another guest, Pierre Martine, seems somehow sinister, and Shirley feels fearful in his presence.  Shirley's unease increases when she learns that an officer of the Spanish Secret Police, Lieutenant Garcia Morales, is trailing the charter flight.  The Spaniards distrust Hidalgo, whose father is accused of having stolen a huge sum of money.  Hidalgo and his guests are most unwelcome in Spain, and Shirley fears that the innocent involvement of herself and the other crew members could cost them their jobs.

With Jack Hammond, Juan's faithful Canadian friend, Shirley sets out to foil the sinister forces of the Securitad Espana, and Juan fulfils his vow to clear his father's name.  From Barcelona to Teruel, Granada, and Madrid—up to the treasure caves of the Guadaljara, Shirley Flight and the crew of the Dove outwit the forces of greed and evil, and take Juan out to the safety of Gibraltar.
  #11 Pacific Castaways

Shirley Flight finds herself in the most dangerous situation of her entire career when a tropical hurricane shatters a window at 20,000 feet—and down comes the airliner, damaged in a forced but safe landing.

And that is how Shirley Flight finds herself one of a group of castaways on a desolate island in the mid-Pacific, an island peopled by natives who greet the intruders with fear and hostility, because their island is already in a grip of a mysterious and terrifying taboo.

It needs all the courage and fortitude in the world for the air crew to cope with a huddle of hysterical passengers, a horde of angry and terror-ridden natives, and a crippled airline.  But the one thing a crew never dares do is give in, and Shirley plays her part, calling up all her resources of cheerfulness, humor and ingenuity, to pacify her "pax," to establish, if possible, some sort of friendly relations with the natives.

Shirley's skill is put to the test as two of her passengers threaten to attack the natives and later turn against the rest of the passengers.  As the crew members work to establish radio contact with the outside world, the castaways and the natives are both attacked by unseen enemies from the other side of the island.  Shirley and her friends must solve the mystery if they have any hope of surviving their harrowing experience.
  #12 Fjord Adventure

Shirley Flight, irresistible red-haired Wendy Moreland, and First Officer Tony Luckworth, the three staunch pals of the sky-ways, are together again—in a story of enthralling mystery in a fascinating Norwegian fjord.

They are air-crew to a flying-boat specially chartered to take a repertory company to Norway to give a special performance of Ibsen's 'Bygmester Solness' (The Master-Builder) as part of the Norwegian Annual Ibsen Festival Week.

What consternation there is in the repertory company when they learn that a girl in their cast, playing a leading role, is to be replaced by a mysterious stranger, Freida Larsen—a girl with dark, flashing eyes whom nobody has ever heard of before.

Freida keeps herself to herself, and nobody has any time to spare for her—except gullible, trusting Wendy Moreland.  Then things begin to happen.  As soon as the flying-boat reaches its destination—in a picturesque Norwegian fjord—Freida Larsen vanishes, . . . eerie movements are seen in the deserted wing of a medieval castle overlooking the fjord, . . . and then Wendy, too, disappears.

Shirley is worried, for there are disquieting rumors in the air, and, determined to find her missing pal—she sets out to solve the Riddle of the Döde Fjord.

  #13 Flying Jet

It is a thrilling moment for Shirley Flight and her irrepressible pal, Wendy Moreland, when they hear that they are detailed to the crew of T.C.A.L.'s new flying jet service.

To their intense joy they find that their passengers include a party of mannequins who are being taken to New York by Charles Westlake, a British dress designer, to show a collection of his models, and amongst the mannequins they meet an old friend from the training school days—Carol d'Artagnan.

But Carol is no longer the girl they used to know.  She is changed, unhappy.  And as for the mysterious young man who joins the staff, he has a guilty secret that might mean sabotage to Mr. Westlake's hopes.

Altogether, it looks as though the trip is going to have some very queer angles.
  #14 Storm Warning


And that is the start of the most tense situation Shirley Flight has ever faced since she first became an air hostess.  For the liner is in mid-flight when the message comes through, and the cyclone is pursuing an erratic course that cannot be charted or predicted.  It is dicing with death, and the fate of the giant air line, its crew and passengers, lays entirely in the hands of Captain Clifford.

How Shirley and her red-haired colleague Wendy Moreland face up to the ordeal amongst their passengers, each of whom is affected by the senseless havoc of 'Cyclone Cyclops,' makes one of the most gripping Shirley Flight adventures yet written.

  #15 Chinese Puzzle

Shirley Flight's bewildering "Chinese Puzzle" starts when an elderly passenger, Chung Ling Foo, is suddenly taken ill, apparently with a heart attack.  Feeling sorry for the old man, who seems so alone and pathetic, Shirley undertakes to carry out an errand for him.

And from then on, a mysterious chain of circumstances begins to involve Shirley, until she is so bewildered that she doesn't know where truth ends and deceit begins.  All she can do is trust her instinct, particularly where pretty Mai Chan Li is concerned.  Although even Mai seems to have her own axe to grind, and is directly responsible for the affair of the trunk with the mysterious Chinese symbols which nearly scare Shirley out of her wits, knowing as she does that instant dismissal from the job she loves is staring her in the face.

  #16 Canadian Capers

Fourteen days well-earned leave is something for Shirley Flight to look forward to, especially when it is to be shared with her old friends and colleagues, Wendy Moreland, Tony Luckworth, and Captain Clifford.

As they are working on the Trans-Canada Air Routes, they feel they can't do better than spend their leave at Calgary, watching the early Spring Lumberjacks' Championships.

But on their very last flight before their leave, Shirley becomes keenly interested in Joyce Westley, one of her passengers, who seems dogged by bad luck.  She seems almost to be a girl with a jinx.

But is it a jinx?  Or could Joyce's ill-luck have anything to do with the strange man who always seems to be around?

Shirley and Wendy never could resist a challenge, and it seems quite obvious that it is their bounden duty to treat Joyce to their own particular brand of "special attention," a process which inevitably leads them into a most hair-raising adventure.
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