Kitty Mannock is a fictional character created by novelist Clive Cussler for his novel Sahara. Despite being a character in only one novel, Mannock is a central character in the book Sahara as it relates to the location of a lost Civil War era Confederate ironclad.
In the book, Australian female pilot Kitty Mannock is an already well known early aviatrix, and is attempting a record breaking flight between London and Cape Town when she experiences engine failure while flying over the Sahara desert in 1931. She brings her plane in safely during a sandstorm, but before it rolls to a stop it plunges fifty feet into a ravine, badly injuring Mannock.
Although suffering a broken ankle and other more minor injuries, she constructs a makeshift crutch, applies first aid to her injuries, and departs her crashed aircraft on foot in the hopes of locating a roadway. After a trek of some miles, she realizes she is walking in an old riverbed long since run dry, and she comes across an old ship of an odd design, mostly of steel, and obviously used for battle as it possessed numerous cannon. The ship is mostly submerged in sand, and she takes shelter inside it for the night. Inside the vessel she discovers the remains of many of the crew members. The following day she hears an aircraft passing over, which was part of a massive rescue operation underway in search of her. Feeling she will never be located by walking, and short on water, she decides to return to her aircraft in the dim hope that there she will be found. Only days after she returns to her downed plane, she dies from exposure. Rescuers are unable to locate her or her plane, and she is listed as "lost without a trace". Her disappearance goes down in history as one of the great mysteries of aviation, though less known than the later disappearance of Amelia Earhart.
Mannock had kept notes in her diary of everything that had happened since her plane went down, including her having located the odd vessel in the sand. Decades later, while traversing the desert, Dirk Pitt and his partner Al Giordino stumble across the wrecked aircraft. Pitt inspects the remains of the female pilot lying with the plane, and he knows of Mannock and the legend behind her disappearance. He reads the diary, and through this connects her detailed account of what he believes to be a lost ironclad, with detailed accounts he already had obtained. They use parts from her plane to construct a sand yacht, which they use to return to civilization. Inevitably, the diary account made by Mannock greatly assists in pinpointing the location of the lost ironclad, which had allegedly escaped Richmond in the closing days of the Civil War, taking with it the gold bullion of the Confederacy.
Ultimately, the ironclad is located, minus the gold which had been located and removed decades earlier by tribesmen of the Tuareg tribe. They also uncover a conspiracy involving Abraham Lincoln in the process. In the end, all bodies of the former crew are removed and returned home to the United States with full military honors, along with the ship's wreckage. Mannock's remains and her crashed plane, including the parts used by Pitt and Giordino for their sand yacht, are recovered by a special team from Australia, who return her to her home country, where she is received with national honors and her plane and articles placed in a museum.
Though the scenes were deleted in the final cut, Cussler's daughter Dayna Cussler portrays Kitty Mannock in the 2005 film Sahara, starring Matthew McConaughey and Steve Zahn. The deleted scenes may be viewed on the DVD release of the film.