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“The Sky Raider Pt1″ by Donald E. Keyhoe

Link - Posted by David on November 28, 2014 @ 12:00 pm in

Donald E. Keyhoe took up writing while recouperating from an arm injury he sustained in a plane crash in 1922 while serving in with the Marines in Guam. Primarily just to pass the time while convalesing, he found he was good at writing, selling several stories to Weird Tales. Keyhoe’s injury forced him to leave the military in 1923, whereupon he went to work for the National Geodetic Survey and the U.S. Department of Commerce. He kept his hand in aviation, though, by managing a national Good Will Tour of the 48 States by Charles Lindbergh in 1927.

Keyhoe’s first book was about flying Charles Lindbergh around the states on his tour. Published in 1928, Flying with Lindbergh was an instant success. Between the tour and the book, Keyhoe was becoming a household name. So it only makes sense that the newspapers would come calling. Newspapers were constantly looking for ways to boost and maintain their readership. And what better way than to serialize novels of the day. In 1929 Keyhoe wrote a story as modern as the times it was written in. Set against the world of the burgeoning Air Mail service, Dick Trent is a young idealistic flyer on his first day as a Air Mail pilot who soon finds himself involved in a web of love, larceny and murder!

Check out the half-page spread The Ottawa Journal gave the first installment of Donald E. Keyhoe’s The Sky Raider when they ran the series starting March 30th, 1929.

And come back on Monday for the next installment and each subsequent Monday, Wednesday and Friday until we reach the exciting conclusion!

“The Tail Buster” by Frederick Blakeslee

Link - Posted by David on November 27, 2014 @ 12:00 pm in

Frederick Blakeslee painted all the covers for the entire run of Dare-Devil Aces. And each of those covers had a story behind it. For the December 1933 issue Blakeslee paints the tail of a premeditated crash between a French Herriot and a German Fokker and L.V.G. in “The Tail Buster”…

th_DDA_3312THE COVER painting this month shows, not an accident but a premeditated crash. The Frenchmen—pilot and gunner—had left their drome to put a new Herriot through its paces. As a precaution, however, they loaded up with ammunition—and were glad they did. For as they stunted about over France, two L.V.G.’s attacked them.

A Fokker, flying higher, did not join the attack until one of the L.V.G.’s burst into flames, the victim of French guns. The Fokker then dove, passed under and looped to get on the Frenchman’s tail. By a quick skid, the French pilot brought his ship broadside on and the gunner poured a devastating fire into the Boche.

In the meantime, the second L.V.G. had maneuvered directly under the Frenchman. At the moment the French gunner sent his flaming slugs into the Fokker, tracers came up through the floor of the French machine right between the pilots legs, cutting one of the elevator wires. In a split second the pilot shoved his stick forward and dove.

The pilot of the L.V.G. saw the other ship begin its dive and whipped his tail down, too late. With a crack his rudder disappeared in a cloud of flying fabric and propeller splinters.

The French gunner coolly climbed out on the fuselage and righted the Herriot. Then he and the pilot took stock of the situation. The Germans were headed for the only cleared space dead ahead—and the Frenchman headed for it too. They just made the plowed field.

In the resulting crash the pilot of the Herriot was buried in wreckage; the gunner was hurled clear and perhaps it was fortunate that the field was plowed for he had a comparatively soft landing. He rushed over to the wreckage and began frantically to dig out the pilot, whom he could hear groaning. Presently he was conscious of having help. Two French flyers had joined him. Between them they soon had the unconscious pilot extracted, and right there and then they all got busy and set his dislocated shoulder.

After it was all over and the pilot was conscious and resting, the gunner thought of the German machine. He looked around and saw its wreckage about a hundred yards away but no signs of its crew. Startled, he looked more closely at the two rescuers who were now conversing in perfect French to the pilot. They were dressed in French flying clothes all right. But the gunner put two and two together—and realized that they were the pilot and gunner of the German ship!

When the Boches politely bade farewell and walked away, he made no move. Five minutes later the field was swarming with people. In answer to questions as to where the Germans were all the Frenchman said was—”They have escaped.”

The Story Behind The Cover
“The Tail Buster: The Story Behind The Cover” by Frederick M. Blakeslee (December 1933)

Check back again. We will be presenting more of Blakeslee’s Stories behind his cover illustrations.

It’s almost here. . . .

Link - Posted by David on November 26, 2014 @ 12:00 pm in

After you’ve done your Christmas shopping and eaten your Thanksgiving leftovers, settle down to the first installment of our serialized drama—The Sky Raider! Here is some promotion from back at the time. From the front page of The Ironwood Daily Globe, Ironwood, MI the Monday before the serial started:

    Donald E. Keyhoe, the flying ace, writes from his own remarkable experiences the first thrilling mystery serial of crime in the air, “The Sky Raider.”
    Colonel Lindbergh recognized Keyhoe’s unusual skill and fearlessness by selecting him as his flying aide on his great ‘Round America Tour. Keyhoe is not only a pioneer in the world’s newest adventure the conquest of the air, but he is the first to write a mystery story of the skies.
    Colonel Lindbergh’s flying aide has written a gripping story of romance, adventure, mystery, devotion and death in “The Sky Raider.” Don’t miss the first of many thrills coming to you soon in The Daily Globe.

We’ll be presenting the first two chapters Friday! We’ll follow this with two more chapters every Monday, Wednesday and Friday until we reach the exciting conclusion on New Years Eve!

Ad for Donald E. Keyhoe’s “The Sky Raider” from The Ironwood Daily Globe
(Ironwood, MI; Saturday. August 10, 1929)

Coming Soon. . . .

Link - Posted by David on November 21, 2014 @ 12:00 pm in

Starting next Friday we’re embarking on something new here at Age of Aces. We’re going to be posting a serialized story by Donald E Keyhoe that ran in newspapers back in 1929—The Sky Raider!

Ad for Donald E. Keyhoe’s “The Sky Raider” from The Ottawa Journal
(Ottawa, Ontario; Tuesday, March 26, 1929)

Be sure to come back next Friday for the first installment!

“The Caterpillar Ace” by Frederick Blakeslee

Link - Posted by David on November 20, 2014 @ 12:00 pm in

Frederick Blakeslee painted all the covers for the entire run of Dare-Devil Aces. And each of those covers had a story behind it. Blakeslee illustrates an incident in the career of that great German Ace—Ernst Udet! His life was previously featured by Alden McWilliams in his “They Had What it Takes”, but here Blakeslee features the battle that led Udet to use a parachute for the first time, thus becoming “The Caterpillar Ace!”

th_DDA_3311THE COVER this month illustrates an incident in the sky adventures of one of Germany’s great war aces—Ernst Udet. There is one slight discrepancy from fact in the painting. The Allied ship on the cover is an R.E.8, whereas Udet was engaged in combat with a Bristol Fighter. When the story was first told me the two planes were described as a Fokker triplane and an R.E.8. Later on—after the canvas was painted and just before this magazine went to press—I discovered the error, but it was too late to remedy it then. Outside of this, however, the picture depicts a great battle climax as it actually occurred in war skies.

You will notice that the German pilot is wearing a parachute. Ernst Udet is the only war-time pilot to escape from a wrecked ship in a parachute—thus having the distinction of being the original member of the Caterpillar Club.

The event was remarkable since, on the day this happened, Udet was wearing a parachute for the first time and against his will. He had been ordered to do so as an experiment. Sighting a Bristol Fighter, he maneuvered onto its tail and when only about a dozen feet away opened fire. His tracers tacked a scam up the Bristol’s back into the gunner’s pit; the gunner slumped over, apparently dead.

Udet’s speed carried him beyond the Bristol. Careful not to give the .pilot chance for a shot at him, he swung around, again on its tail. As he came in close, holding his fire until he should be in perfect position, his eyes widened with horror. For the gunner—supposedly dead—was dragging himself upright, his face a mass of blood; swinging his guns around, he opened fire at point-blank range.

Before the astonished German ace could gather his wits, there was a rendering crash. His upper wing carried away—was shot away, rather—snapping the struts, and pulling the second and third wings with it. A split second later, the wingless fuselage began its plunge to earth.

It was then Udet remembered the unwanted bulk strapped to his back. Well, he might just as well try it. He would die anyway! So he leaped clear. The parachute, to his astonishment, opened and he floated easily to earth, landing in German territory. The pilot of the Bristol had been watching it all. He now came down low over where Udet had landed. The German waved his hand and the Bristol flew away south.

Udet fought under a lucky star. Sometime later, while flying a Fokker D-VII, he was rammed by a fire-eating Camel pilot and he crashed to earth, but was not severely injured.

Ernst Udet is Germany’s leading surviving ace, credited with sixty-two victories. He was respected by friend and foe alike for his sportsmanship in combat. Recently he came to the United States and flew for the movies. He is responsible for the really beautiful air shots in such movies as “The White Hell of Pitz Palu” and “Storm Over Mount Blanc.” Last summer he spent in Greenland working on the movie “S.O.S. Iceberg.” He is one of the most masterly stunt pilots in the world and is one of the few surviving aces who has not lost his cunning.

The Story Behind The Cover
“The Caterpillar Ace: The Story Behind The Cover” by Frederick M. Blakeslee (November 1933)

Check back again. We will be presenting more of Blakeslee’s Stories behind his cover illustrations.

“The Broken Parole” by William E. Barrett

Link - Posted by David on November 18, 2014 @ 12:00 pm in

William E. Barrett is an excellent author. Known for such classics as The Left Hand of God, Lillies of the Field, and our own The Iron Ace! In honor of William E. Barrett’s birthday this past weekend, we have for you a tale of broken wings from the January 1933 issue of Sky Birds. The brothers Cord, one stripped of his honor while the other was honor bound not to fly!

Flying high in a blood-red sky, von Sternberg had taken toll of the lives of many men. Over the brothers Cord he had thrown an even grimmer shadow, for he had robbed one of his honor, the other of the right to fly. But wings can be built that are too strong to be broken.

“Terror Bomb—” by Frederick Blakeslee

Link - Posted by David on November 13, 2014 @ 12:00 pm in

This week we feature Dare-Devil Ace’s October 1933 cover, Frederick Blakeslee’s “Terror Bomb!”

th_DDA_3310TWO BRITISH FLYERS were ordered to destroy certain balloon sheds in Germany. Flying a D.H-9 loaded with four bombs, they reached their destination without opposition and released the eggs. There were only three bursts of dust and smoke—all wide of the mark—and the gunners thought that the fourth bomb had proved a dud. About that time archie suddenly stopped, which meant Boche planes were approaching. While the gunner scanned the sky for the enemy the pilot set out for home.

The pilot noticed that his ship had a tendency to bank right. In order to correct the bank he had to depress his right aileron. He told the gunner, who immediately remembered the fact that the fourth bomb had not exploded.

Three Fokkers were rapidly overtaking them, but forgetting them, the gunner leaned out and down to peer under the wing. What he saw made his heart skip a beat. The bomb was hanging, head down, its tail tangled in the release gear! Had the wind started the timing propeller in the nose of the bomb ? If so, they only had minutes to live.

The gunner yelled something to the pilot and climbed out onto the wing and from there to the landing gear. He saw that the timing propeller was still and that the bomb could be released easily.

The pilot swung his ship in a circle and started back into Germany. Again and again the Fokkers rushed to attack. Flaming slugs filled the air. But the daredevil D.H. hurtled on for the balloon sheds—reached them. The lead Fokker, however, was on its tail.

The Yank pilot leaned back, pulled the gun around and sent a burst through his own tail directly into the nose of the pursuing Fokker! The Jerry dove away with a smashed propeller, spun dizzily, then crashed to the ground. They were directly over their objective by now; the gunner released the dangling bomb—which spun down true to its mark. It hit a gas tank and a moment later, the whole outfit—shed, balloon and outhouses—was in flames!

The gunner crawled back to his pit and began to fight off the other two Fokkers. More Boche ships were approaching so the pilot began his race for home—and it was some race! They landed with their ship so badly damaged by tracers that it had be rebuilt.

The Story Behind The Cover
“Terror Bomb: The Story Behind The Cover” by Frederick M. Blakeslee (October 1933)

Check back again. We will be presenting more of Blakeslee’s Stories behind his cover illustrations.

“Lives of the Aces in Pictures – Part 28: Major Andrew McKeever” by Eugene Frandzen

Link - Posted by David on November 11, 2014 @ 12:00 pm in

Here’s another of Eugene Frandzen’s “Lives of the Aces in Pictures” from the pages of Flying Aces Magazine. The series ran for almost four years with a different Ace featured each month. This week we have the his illustrated biography from the October 1934 issue, that famous Canadian Ace—Major Andrew McKeever!

Major Andrew Edward McKeever is the RFC/RAF’s leading two-seater fighter pilot ace scoring 31 victories with seven different gunners/observers. He was awarded a chest-full of awards—The Distinguished Service Order, Military Cross & Bar, Distinguished Flying Cross, and from France, the Croix de Guerre.

With the end of the war, McKeever accepted a job managing an airfield at Mineola, New York. Before he could start work, he was involved in an auto accident in his home town of Listowel on September 3rd, breaking his leg. Over the following weeks, complications set in—he died of cerebral thrombosis on Christmas Day, 1919.

“Ace of the Storm” by Frederick Blakeslee

Link - Posted by David on November 6, 2014 @ 12:00 pm in

Frederick Blakeslee painted the covers for Dare-Devil Aces‘ entire fourteen year run. Every one of those covers told a story, and Blakeslee had a page with which to do so. This time we present Blakeslee’s cover for the September 1933 issue—”Ace of the Storm”…

th_DDA_3309ALL BOCHE machines on the French side of the lines turned and fled toward Germany—Allied ships on the German side turned and fled toward France—dogfights were broken off abruptly. The cause of this was a mutual enemy and one whom no man could fight—a thunderstorm.

A lone Allied pilot, deep in Germany, saw it coming and swung his Nieuport back toward the front. Just as he was passing the head of the storm, two L.V.G.’s approached. He knew they were Boches, but the storm was close and looked ugly, so he decided to pass them. However, as he sped by with a wave of his hand, one of the Jerry gunners sent a burst of steel into his ship which just missed the cockpit.

Enraged, he turned. Sweeping in from the side in a figure eight, he sent a burst into the gunner’s cockpit—and was gratified to see the Boche crumple up. But at the same time he saw flaming tracers flash by his head. Without turning, he looped just in time to spot a Halberstadt flash by underneath. It apparently had arrived from nowhere and, unknown to him, had been riding his tail. A blinding flash of lightning just then made him decide not to attack the newcomer.

The storm by now had cut off the further retreat of the Germans and they were diving toward earth, presumably to land. There was only one opening beyond which the sky showed brightly. Behind and on two sides the storm was raging and fast closing the gap. Bewildered by his useless compass, and not knowing whether the gap led toward France or Germany, the Yank made for it in desperation. He reached it and had just landed when the storm broke.
German reports for that day list five ships missing. Among them one Halberstadt and two L.V.G.’s!

During 1917 and 1918 the Halberstadt firm produced one of the best two-seater fighters of the war. The first one was brought down at Villes Bocage by Lieutenants Armstrong and Mert in an R.E.8 on September 6, 1918.

The Halberstadt. in all probability, represents the high-water mark of two-seater German airplane construction, as it was not only well and strongly constructed, but its general behavior in the air was good according to the standards of the day.

The Story Behind The Cover
“Ace of the Storm: The Story Behind The Cover” by Frederick M. Blakeslee (September 1933)

Check back again. We will be presenting more of Blakeslee’s Stories behind his cover illustrations.

“Lives of the Aces in Pictures – Part 26: Lt. Thomas Hitchcock, Jr.” by Eugene Frandzen

Link - Posted by David on November 4, 2014 @ 12:00 pm in

Here’s another of Eugene Frandzen’s “Lives of the Aces in Pictures” from the pages of Flying Aces Magazine. The series ran for almost four years with a different Ace featured each month. This week we have the August 1934 installment which pictorialized the life of Lt. Thomas Hitchcock, Jr., Yank flyer!!

Hitchcock, rejected by the American forces due to his age, enlisted with the Lafayette Esquadrille where he was decorated for bringing down two German flyers. Captured in March of 1918 when he fell behind enemy lines while in a tangle with three Boche planes, he managed to escape by jumping from a train near Ulm and walked 80 miles through hostil territory to reach the Swiss border.

Hitchcock was a whiz on the polo field as well as in the air—leading the U.S. team to victory in the 1921 International Polo Cup. He carried a 10-goal handicap from 1922 to 1940 and led four teams to U.S. National Open Championships. In 1990 he was inducted posthumously into the Museum of Polo and Hall of Fame.

It is said that F. Scott Fitzgerald even based two characters on Thomas in two of his novels. He turned all his virtues to vices in The Great Gatsby for the character of Tom Buchanan in 1925 and later used him as inspiration for Tommy Barban in Tender is the Night (1934).

Hitchcock served as a Lieutenant Colonel in the U.S. Army Air Forces in World War II and was assignedas an assistant air attache to the US Embassy in London. In this capacity he was instrumental in the development of the P-51 Mustang fighter plane. Sadly he lost his life while test piloting the plane near Salisbury, Wiltshire, England in 1944. He was 44.