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Famous Flyers and Their Famous Flights

Jack Wright

  Produced by Roger Frank and the Online DistributedProofreading Team at





  Cleveland, Ohio -- New York, N. Y.


  Copyright _by_ THE WORLD SYNDICATE PUB. CO. 1932

  _Printed in the United States of America_ by THE COMMERCIAL BOOKBINDING CO. CLEVELAND, O.



  CHAPTER I--Exciting News CHAPTER II--Captain Bill CHAPTER III--The Wright Brothers CHAPTER IV--Some War Heroes CHAPTER V--The Eagle CHAPTER VI--More About The Eagle CHAPTER VII--A Close Shave CHAPTER VIII--North Pole and South CHAPTER IX--Four Women Flyers CHAPTER X--Hawks and Doolittle CHAPTER XI--Hal Comes Through



  CHAPTER I--Exciting News

  Bob Martin stood outside the large red brick house and whistled. Hewhistled three notes, a long and two short, which meant to Hal Gregginside that Bob wanted to see him, and to see him quickly. Something wasup. At least, that was what it should have meant to Hal, but evidentlyit didn't, because no answering whistle came out to Bob, and no headappeared in any of the windows.

  Bob whistled again, this time a little more shrilly, and he kept onwhistling until a pale, spectacled face appeared at an upstairs window.The window was thrown open, and Bob shouted up before Hal Gregg had achance to speak.

  "Hey, what's the idea of keeping me waiting? Hurry up, come on down,I've got something great to tell you."

  "Hold your horses. I didn't hear you whistle at first. I was reading,"called down Hal.

  Bob snorted. "Put it away and hurry up down. Books can wait. You shouldhear the news I've got to tell you."

  "The book's swell," said Hal. "It's that new book on aviation I got formy birthday. Is your news more important than that?"

  "You bet it is," yelled Bob. "And if you aren't down here in twoseconds, I'm going to keep it to myself. And won't you be sorry!"

  Hal laughed. "I'll be down in one second. I'm not going to have youknowing anything I don't know. You're too smart now." The dark headdisappeared from the window, reappeared atop the narrow shoulders of itsowner at the front door within a few seconds, bobbing about as he leapeddown the front steps two at a time. Hal Gregg joined his pal Bob underthe maple tree on the Gregg front lawn.

  The two boys made a strange contrast as they flung themselves down inthe shade of the tree. They were the same age, sixteen, with Hal havinga little edge on his friend. But Bob could have passed for the otherboy's big brother. He was a full head taller, his shoulders werebroader, his complexion ruddier. He was the typical outdoor boy, withtousled brown hair, a few unruly freckles, and a broad pleasant face.Hal Gregg was short and slight, with sloping narrow shoulders. Hiscomplexion was dark, and his large, serious eyes were hidden behindshell-rimmed eye-glasses. Yet though they were such a badly matchedteam, the two boys were fast friends.

  Their friendship had begun strangely. In the first place, they livednext door to each other, on a quiet, shady side-street in the large cityof Crowley. Bob had lived there first, while the red brick house next tohis had been empty for a long time. Nobody Bob's age had ever lived inthat house, and he had grown to look at it as an old fogey sort of ahouse, very dull, and fit only for grownups. It didn't seem as thoughyoung people could ever live in it. So he'd been pretty much excitedwhen he found out that the house had been sold, and that a boy his ownage was going to move in.

  But his first glimpse of Hal was a disappointed one. "Oh, golly, just myluck," he said to his mother. "Somebody my own age moves in next door atlast, and look what he turns out to be."

  Mrs. Martin had also caught a glimpse of Hal as he had got out of theautomobile with his mother, and entered the house. "He seems to me to bea very nice boy," she said quietly.

  "Nice! That's just the point. He looks as though he's so nice he'll beas dull as ditchwater. I'll bet he's the kind that can't tell oneairplane from another, and buys his radio sets all made up, with twentytubes and all kinds of gadgets. Lot of fun I'll have with him!"

  Mrs. Martin smiled and said nothing. She was a wise mother. She knewthat if she praised Hal too much he would seem just so much worse in herson's eyes. So she resolved to let him decide for himself, just as shealways let him decide, whether he wanted Hal for a friend or not.

  For several days Bob saw nothing of Hal, but one day, as he rode hisbicycle up the driveway that separated the two houses, he heard someonehail him. He looked over into the Gregg yard and saw Hal there,stretched out in a steamer chair, an open book in his lap. He lookedvery small and puny. Bob got down from his bike. He was embarrassed. Halhailed him again. "Come on over," he called.

  Bob got down and walked over to where the other boy was sitting. Themeeting between two strange boys is usually a hard one, with suspicionon both sides. But Hal seemed surprisingly pleasant. "I've seen youriding around," he said, "but I haven't had a chance to call you before.I'm Hal Gregg. You're Bob, aren't you?"

  "Sure," grinned Bob. He was beginning to think that this Hal might notbe such a bad sort. "How did you know?"

  "Oh, I'm a Sherlock Holmes. Anyway, I've heard your mother calling toyou. And if she calls you 'Bob,' that must be your name."

  Bob laughed, "You're right, she ought to know," he said. But he didn'tknow what to say next. Hal filled in the gap.

  "You go swimming a lot, and bicycling, don't you?"

  "Sure," Bob replied. "That's about all a fellow likes to do in summer.Don't you swim?"

  Hal's forehead wrinkled. "My mother doesn't like me to go swimming," hesaid. "I've never had a bike, either. You see, my mother's always afraidthat something'll happen to me. She hasn't got anybody but me, you know.I haven't got a father, or any other family. I guess that's what makesMother so anxious about me."

  "My mother never seems to worry very much about me," said Bob. "Atleast, she never shows it."

  Hal looked at Bob enviously. "You don't have to be worried about," hesaid. "You're as husky as they come."

  Bob felt himself getting warm. This wasn't the way for a fellow to talk.All of his friends called each other "shrimp" or "sawed-off," no matterhow big and husky they might be. None of them ever showed such poortaste as to compliment a fellow. He guessed, and correctly, that Halhadn't been with boys enough to learn the proper boy code of etiquette.But he just said, "Aw, I'm not so husky," which was the proper answer toa compliment, anyway.

  "You sure are," said Hal. "You see, I was a sickly child, and had to betaken care of all the time. I'm all right now, but my mother doesn'tseem to realize it. She still treats me as though I was about to breakout with the measles any minute. I guess that's about all I used to dowhen I was a kid."

  "With measles?" laughed Bob. "I thought that you could get those onlyonce."

  "Oh, if it wasn't measles, then something else. Anyway, here I am."

  Bob's opinion of the boy had sunk lower and lower. He saw that theyweren't going to get on at all. Why, the boy was nothing but amollycoddle, and not much fun. "What do you do for fun?" he asked,curiously.

  "Oh, I read a lot," said Hal, picking up the book in his lap.

  Bob's mind was now more firmly made up. A fellow who spent all his timereading was no fun at all. And he needn't think that Bob was going toencourage any friendship, either. "What's the book?" he asked.

  "A biography," said Hal.

  "Biography!" thought Bob, but he looked at the title. It was a life ofAdmiral Byrd.

  Bob's eyes lighted up. "Oh, say," he said, "is tha
t good?"

  "It's great," said Hal. "You know, I read every book on aviators thatcomes out. I've always wanted to be one--an aviator, you know."

  Bob sat up and took notice. "Gee, you have? Why, so have I. My UncleBill's an aviator. You ought to know him. He was in the war. Joined whenhe was just eighteen. I'm going to be an aviator, too."

  "You are? Have you ever been up?"

  "No," said Bob, "but I'm going some day. Bill's going to teach me how topilot a plane. He's promised. He's coming to visit us some time andbring his own plane. Dad takes me out to the airport whenever he can,and we watch the planes. I've never had a chance to go up, though."

  Hal's eyes clouded. "I hope you get to be an aviator," he said, "I don'tthink that I ever shall. My mother'd never allow me to go up."

  "Oh, sure, she would," consoled Bob, "if you wanted to badly enough.Have you ever built a plane? A model, I mean?"

  "Have I? Dozens. One of them flew, too. You've got to come up to myworkshop and see them," said Hal eagerly. "I read every new book thatcomes out. I think that airplanes are the greatest thing out."

  "You've got to see my models, too. I made a _Spirit of St. Louis_ theyear that Lindy flew across the Atlantic. Of course it isn't as good asmy later ones. Say, we're going to have a swell time, aren't we?" Atthat moment Bob knew that he and Hal were going to be good friends.

  And good friends they were. There were a great many things about Halthat annoyed Bob no end at first. Hal was, without a doubt, his mother'sboy. He was afraid of things--things that the fearless Bob took forgranted. He was afraid of the dark--afraid of getting his feet wet--afraidof staying too late and worrying his mother. And then he was awkward.Bob tried gradually to initiate him into masculine sports--but it irkedhim to watch Hal throw a ball like a girl, or swim like a splashingporpoise. But he had to admit that Hal tried. And when he got better atthings, it was fun teaching him. Bob felt years older than his pupil,and gradually came to take a protective attitude toward him that amusedhis mother.

  Mrs. Martin smiled one day when Bob complained about Hal's awkwardnessin catching a ball. "Well," she said, "you may be teaching Hal things,but he's teaching you, too, and you should be grateful to him."

  "What's he teaching me?" asked Bob, surprised.

  "I notice, Bob, that you're reading a great deal more than you everhave. I think that that's Hal's influence."

  "Oh, that," said Bob, "why, we read the lives of the famous flyers,that's all. Why, that's fun. That's not reading."

  Mrs. Martin smiled again, and kept her customary silence.

  The strange friendship, founded on the love of airplanes, flourished.The boys were always together, and had invented an elaborate system ofsignals to communicate with each other at such times as they weren'twith one another. Two crossed flags meant "Come over at once." One flagwith a black ball on it meant "I can't come over." These flags, usuallylimp and bedraggled by the elements horrified the parents of both Boband Hal when they saw them hanging in various intricate designs out ofwindows and on bushes and trees in the garden. But since they seemednecessary to the general scheme of things, they were allowed to gounmolested, even in the careful Gregg household.

  The friendship had weathered a summer, a school year, and was nowentering the boys' summer vacation again. It was at the beginning ofthis vacation that Bob whistled to Hal and called to him to come down tohear his wonderful news.

  "Well," said Hal, "spill the news." It must be said of Hal that he triedeven to master the language of the real boy in his education as a goodsport.

  "Bill's coming," said Bob, trying to hide his excitement, but notsucceeding very well.

  "What?" shouted Hal.

  "Sure, Captain Bill's coming to spend the summer with us. He's flyinghere in his own plane."

  "Oh, golly," said Hal, and could say no more.

  Captain Bill was the boys' patron saint. It had been through his uncleBill that Bob Martin had developed his mania for flying. Captain BillHale was Bob's mother's youngest brother, the adventurous member of thefamily, who had enlisted in the Canadian army when he was eighteen, atthe outbreak of the war. When the United States joined the big battle,he had gone into her air corps to become one of the army's crack flyers,with plenty of enemy planes and blimps to his credit. A crash had puthim out of commission at the end of the war, but had not dulled hisardor for flying. For years he had flown his own plane both forcommercial and private reasons.

  As Bob's hero, he had always written to the boy, telling him of hisadventures, encouraging him in his desire to become an aviator. He hadnever found the time actually to visit for any length of time with hissister and her family, but had dropped down from the sky on themsuddenly and unexpectedly every so often.

  But now, as Bob explained carefully to Hal, he was coming for the wholesummer, and was going to teach him, Bob, to fly.

  "Oh, boy, oh, boy, oh, boy," Bob chortled, "what a break! Captain Billhere for months, with nothing to do but fly us around."

  Hal did not seem to share his friend's enthusiasm. "Fly us around? Notus, Bob, old boy--you. My mother will never let me go up." Hal's faceclouded.

  Bob slapped him on the back. "Oh, don't you worry. Your mother will letyou fly. She's let you do a lot of things with me that she never let youdo before. We'll get her to come around."

  But Hal looked dubious. "Not that, I'm afraid. She's scared to death ofplanes, and gets pale if I even mention flying. But that's all right.I'll do my flying on the ground. You and Bill will have a great time."

  "Buck up," said Bob. "Don't cross your bridges until you come to them.We'll work on your mother until she thinks that flying is the safestthing in the world. And it is, too. We'll let Captain Bill talk to her.He can make anybody believe anything. He'll have her so thoroughlyconvinced that she'll be begging him to take you up in the air to saveyour life. See if he doesn't! Bill is great!"

  Hal was visibly improved in spirits. "When's Bill coming in?" he asked.

  "Six tonight," said Bob. "Down at the airport. Dad says that he'll driveus both out there so that we can meet Captain Bill, and drive him back.Gee, wouldn't it be great if he had an autogyro and could land in ourback yard?"

  "Maybe he'll have one the next time he comes. What kind of plane is heflying?"

  "His new Lockheed. It's a monoplane, he says, and painted green, with areddish nose. It's green because his partner, Pat, wanted it green.Pat's been his buddy since they were over in France together, andanything that Pat says, goes. It's got two cockpits, and dual controls.It's just great for teaching beginners. That means us, Hal, old boy.Listen, you'd better get ready. Dad will be home soon, and will want tostart down for the port. Say, does that sound like thunder?"

  The boys listened. It did sound like thunder. In fact, it was thunder."Golly, I hope it doesn't storm. Mother won't let me go if it rains."

  Bob laughed. "I wouldn't worry about you getting wet if it stormed," hesaid. "What about Bill, right up in the clouds? Of course, he can climbover the storm if it's not too bad. But you hurry anyhow. We'll probablyget started before it rains, anyway."

  At ten minutes to six Hal, Bob and Bob's father were parked at theairport, their necks stretched skyward, watching the darkening, cloudedskies for the first hint of a green monoplane. No green monoplane didthey see. A few drops of rain splattered down, then a few more, andsuddenly the outburst that had been promising for hours poured down.Bob's father, with the aid of the two boys, put up the windows of thecar, and they sat fairly snug while the rain teemed down about them. Thefield was becoming sodden. Crashes of lightning and peals of thunderseemed to flash and roll all about them. All of the airplanes withineasy distance of their home port had come winging home like birds to anenormous nest. The three watchers scanned each carefully, but none wasthe green Lockheed of Captain Bill.

  The time passed slowly. Six-thirty; then seven. Finally Mr. Martindecided that they could wait no longer. "He's probably landed some placeto wait for the storm to lift," he said. "He can take a ta
xi over to thehouse when he gets in."

  Reluctant to leave, the boys nevertheless decided that they reallycouldn't wait all night in the storm for Captain Bill, and so theystarted for home.

  Very wet, and bedraggled, and very, very, hungry, they arrived. Hal'smother was practically hysterical, met him at the door, and drew himhastily into the house.

  Mr. Martin and his son ran swiftly from the garage to the back door oftheir house, but were soaked before they got in. Entering the darkenedkitchen, they could hear voices inside.

  "Doesn't that sound like--why, it is--that's Bill's voice," shouted Bob.The light switched on, and Bill and Mrs. Martin came into the kitchen togreet their prodigal relatives.

  "Hello," said Bill, "where have you people been? You seem to be wet.Shake on it."

  "Well, how in the--how did you get in?" shouted Mr. Martin, pumpingBill's hand. "We were waiting in the rain for you for hours."

  "I know," said Bill, contritely, "we tried to get in touch with you, butwe couldn't. You see, I came in by train."

  "By train!" exclaimed Bob. "By train!"

  "Why, sure," laughed the Captain, "Why, aren't you glad to see mewithout my plane? That's a fine nephewly greeting!"

  "Oh, gee, Bill, of course I'm glad to see you, but--well, I've sort ofbeen counting on your bringing your plane."

  Bill laughed. "The plane's coming all right," he said. "We had a littleaccident the other day, and the wing needed repairing. I decided not towait for it, but to come in on the train to be with you. So PatMcDermott is bringing the plane in in a few days. Is that all right? MayI stay?"

  "Yup, you can stay," said Bob. "But I want something to eat!"

  "Everything's ready," said Mrs. Martin. "You change your clothes, andcome right down to dinner."

  "Sure thing," said Bob. But he did not change immediately. He stoppedfirst to put two crossed flags in the window, which meant to Hal, "Comeright over."