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“Earthbound Ace” by Ralph Oppenheim

Link - Posted by David on June 8, 2018 @ 6:00 am in

THIS week we have another great story from the pen of Ralph Oppenheim. Best known in these parts for The Three Mosquitoes, he wrote many other stories of the air and several ripping detective yarns. Here Mr. Oppenheim gives us a story of Lieutenant Steve Bentley who was a race car driver before the war like the great Rickenbacker. But unlike Rickenbacker, Lt. Bentley has a problem with take-off. So used to driving race cars, he couldn’t let go of his instincts—he would hold the stick back, keep the tail down, making the speeding plane hug the earth. He could never get it through his head that a Spad didn’t have to go ninety miles an hour to take off, that flying speed was no more than seventy. Once in the air he was as good as they come.

When Bentley finds out his friend has gone out on a suicide mission, he jumps in his plane and goes after him. Here, his proclivity to drive a plane like a race car comes in handy for getting through the German ground defenses and hopefully saving the day! From the December 1933 issue of Sky Fighters it’s “Earthbound Ace!”

An Auto Racer Takes to the Sky and Finds That He Has a Lot to Learn—But . . . .

“Famous Sky Fighters, October 1933″ by Terry Gilkison

Link - Posted by David on January 17, 2018 @ 6:00 am in

WHEN Sky Fighters returned after a several months hiatus, it included some new features. One of these was “Famous Sky Fighters,” a two page illustrated feature by cartoonist Terry Gilkison. Although Gilkison was probably better known for his syndicated newspaper work, he also provided black and white story interior illustrations for pulp magazines. His work appeared in Clues, Thrilling Adventures, Texas Rangers, Thrilling Mystery, Thrilling Western, and Popular Western. Gilkison provided similar features in a few other Thrilling Publications—there was “Famous Soldiers of Fortune” and later “Adventure Thrills” in Thrilling Adventures, Famous Crimes” in Thrilling Detective, and the fully illustrated air adventure stories of Buck Barton “The Flying Devil” in The Lone Eagle! He signed most of this work with only his initials “T.G.” to maintain a low profile and preserve his reputation as a syndicated newspaper cartoon artist.

In the premiere installment from the pages of the October 1933 issue of Sky Fighters, Gilkison devote the whole feature to America’s Ace of Aces—Captain Eddie Rickenbacker. Future installments would frequently feature several famous sky fighters!

Next time in “Famous Sky Fighters,” Terry Gilkison breaks it up a bit and looks at Lt. Allan Winslow, Ernst Udet and Lt. Rene Dorme. Don’t miss it!

“Lives of the Aces in Pictures – Part 1: Eddie Rickenbacker” by Eugene Frandzen

Link - Posted by David on November 11, 2015 @ 6:00 am in

Starting in the May 1932 issue of Flying Aces and running almost 4 years, Eugene Frandzen’s “Lives of the Aces in Pictures” was a staple of the magazine. Each month Frandzen would feature a different Ace that rose to fame during the Great War. This time around we have the inaugral installment featuring America’s Ace of Aces—Eddie Rickenbacker!

Rickenbacker is credited with 26 victories—the most of any American flyer. He was awarded the Medal of Honor, Legion of Honor, Croix de Guerre and the Distinguished Service Cross with 8 oak leaf clusters (1 silver & 3 bronze).

Before the war, Rickenbacker had become one of the most successful race car drivers, and, with the war’s end, Rickenbacker went back to what he knew. He elected to leave the air service and established his own automotive company that ultimately went out of business. Not detoured, he bought the Indianapolis Speedway—turning it around and making it profitable. From there he went into General Motors. When GM aquired North American Aviation in 1935, RIckenbacker was asked to manage one of their holdongs—Eastern Air Transport which Rickenbacker merged with Florida Airways to form Eastern Air Lines—taking a little airline flying a few thousand miles a week to major airline!

(Somehow during all this he found the time to also script two popular comic strip from 1935 to 1940—Ace Drummond and Hall of Fame of the Air.)

The advent of World War II brought Rickenbacker back to service—but as a civilian Representative to the Secretary of War in the survey of aircraft installations. Resuming his role at Eastern Air Lines after the war. With Eastern’s financial losses in the 1950’s, Rickenbacker was forced out of his position as CEO in 1959 and resigned as Chairman of the Board on December 31st, 1963.

Rickenbacker spent his remaining years lecturing, writing his autobiography and traveling with his wife. He suffered a stroke while in Switzerland and contracted pneumonia—dying on July 23rd, 1972.

(Editor’s Note: These early installments of Frandzen’s “Lives of the Aces in Pictures” that were published in the pulp-sized issues have been reformatted from a two page spread into a one page feature.)