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“Sky Mirage” by Arnold Lorne Hicks

Link - Posted by David on June 24, 2024 @ 6:00 am in

THIS week we present a cover by Arnold Lorne Hicks! Hicks worked in the pulps primarily from the late ’20’s to the mid 30’s, producing covers for such magazines as North-West Stories, Navy Stories, Police Stories, Detective Dragnet, Sky Birds, Golden West, Western Trails, Love Adventures, and a couple covers for Flying Aces!

Sky Mirage

th_FA_3012BELIEVE it or not, but many an airman on the Western Front got the fright of his young life by the mid-summer mirages that appeared every so often in the cloud-banked skies during the World War.

This month, our artist has depicted the phenomenon vividly on the front cover. The pilot, flying alongside of a bank of clouds with the sun off to his left, has suddenly turned to find another machine, of the same type, flying alongside him.

Many a pilot has been fooled by this mirage, and has waved in recognition, believing the ship to be another of his own squadron. Naturally, the other pilot has waved back. This sort of thing goes on sometimes until the pilot finally notices the aura of the rainbow colors circling the other ship. Then, and then only, does he realize that the other ship is nothing but a mirage—or a reflection of his own plane.

A pilot on the Western Front, in an effort to elude a flock of Fokkers, attempted to fly into a cloud bank, under the mirage conditions. He almost fell out of his cockpit attempting to get out of the way of another ship that appeared to be flying directly at him. He ducked to one side, and saw the other ship do the same. For a few minutes, he flew alongside this strange ship, and wondered why the other pilot acted so strangely. Again he tried to turn in, and the other ship heeled over toward him and apparently tried to ram him.

The poor mystified pilot swore and raged. The Fokkers were coming down on him like spitting vultures. There was nothing to do but take a chance and go it cold. Into the cloud he turned again, and decided to make the other ship pull out. Imagine his amazement when the other ship disappeared completely!

For several minutes he wondered what had happened, or whether he was seeing things, and then he suddenly remembered the story of sky mirages that other pilots of his squadron had talked about, back in the mess. But by that time, he was a pretty scared peelot. When he got back to his airdrome, he lost no time in telling the boys of his experience.

“Whenever you get into a mess like that,” advised the major, “look for the colored aura that always encircles the other plane. It is the same rainbow effect that you see in spray from a fountain or waterfall, when the sun strikes it at a certain angle to your vision. The reason it disappeared was because you had flown in so close to the cloud that you no longer were in the angle of vision to see it.”

Talk about your phantom planes! There were plenty of them out there when the sun shone right.

The Story Behind The Cover
Sky Mirage
Flying Aces, December 1930 by Arnold Lorne Hicks

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