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“Reckless and Lucky” by D. Campbell

Link - Posted by David on March 22, 2024 @ 6:00 am in

WE’RE back with a second of three stories featuring D. Campbell’s The Three Wasps—stories plagiarized right from The Three Mosquitoes! So instead of the young impetuous leader Kirby of the Mosquitoes, we have the young and impetuous Gary heading up the Wasps. Similarly, Campbell changed “Shorty” Carn to “Shorty” Keen complete with briar pipe and eldest and wisest Travis to Cooper. This time we have their first of five appearances in Harold Hersey’s Eagles of the Air, a short lived pulp that didn’t even run a year. From October 1929 to August 1930, Eagles of the Air had nine issues; The Wasps ran in five of them.

This was classic when Oppenheim first wrote it—Gary takes on a lone enemy plane while returning from a mission, the two crash and Gary and the Boche flyer strike up an uneasy truce until they find out which side of the lines they are on and who is whose prisoner!

Lost in the trackless cloud wastes, Gary and the flying Baron settle to earth in strange territory. True to the code of the flying men a pact develops between them—but the German Baron tricks Gary. Then the real fight begins!

And compare this to Oppenheim’s original version of the story with The Three Mosquitoes!

Two Aces~and a Joker

Kirby, leader of the famous “Three Mosquitoes,” knew that he was too worn out to jump into another fight. He must get his plane back to the drome. But that lone Fokker that appeared suddenly below him looked too easy to miss—it was a cinch! He dived, with motor roaring, but it wasn’t such a cinch—

And check back on Monday for a third adventure featuring D. Campbell’s the Three Wasps!

The Three Wasps!

Link - Posted by David on March 20, 2024 @ 6:00 am in

WHILE recently looking through Harold Hersey’s short-run aviation titles, I came upon what I thought was a new series we could feature on the site, or maybe in a book if there were enough stories. Thumbing though the first issue of Hersey’s Eagles of the Air there was an ad for the next issue stating, “Another Story of The “WASPS”"

I looked in the next issue and there they were as well as running in three of the other seven issues of the run—five tales in all. I scanned the pages to read later and continued searching through the various titles.

Later, while reading the first one, I was thinking this all sounds so familiar. I was thinking this was a story I had just read—and it was, but then it was a story staring Ralph Oppenheim’s “Three Mosquitoes,” not D. Campbell’s “Three Wasps.” So I pulled up the Mosquitoes version of the story and Campbell’s story was a virtual word-for-word copy of of Oppenheim’s—all he did was change the names of the characters.

So Kirby, the young impetuous leader of the Three Mosquitoes becomes Gary, the young impetuous leader of the Three Wasps. “Shorty” Carn, the mild-eyed, corpulent little Mosquito becomes the mild-eyed, corpulent “Shorty” Keen, complete with briar pipe in Campbell’s Wasps. To complete the inseparable trio, Travis, the oldest and wisest of the Mosquitoes, has his name changed to Cooper.

The Text. A portion of the D. Campbell’s “Dangerous Business” (Eagles of the Air, Nov 1929) on the left and the similar passage from Ralph Oppenheim’s “Stacked Cards” (War Birds, Jul 1928) on the right.

I couldn’t believe it. So I checked out the Wasps story in the next issue and it was the same thing. And so on with the other three—sometimes even forgetting to change “Mosquitoes” to “Wasps”. All five stories were plagiarized from Oppenhiem’s stories. Instead of just stealing a random story like Robert A. Carter had done, D. Campbell was plagiarizing a whole series!

It seemed a bold move that nobody seemed to notice. Weirdly, I could find no mention of it in the newspapers of the time. The only hint of something being up was pointed out by a reader whose letter ran in the same issue as the final Wasps story.

So who was this D. Campbell? I thought at first it was just an alias for Oppenheim who was simply trying to repackage his Three Mosquitoes stories as The Three Wasps and get paid for them again—’cause nobody would be so bold, but D. Campbell it turns out, is an actual guy.

Donald Marr Campbell was born on September 2nd, 1904 in Cambellton, Texas and had his first story in the pulps, “King Ranch,” in the February 11th, 1928 issue of West. He’s credited with a couple dozen stories that run the gamut from aviation to detective to spy to westerns with his last appearing in the March 1932 issue of The Shadow

Campbell listed his occupation as Cafe Operator in the 1940 census and signed up for the war effort in 1942. Sadly, in the 1950 census he is listed as being unable to walk. He moved to Houston in 1956 where he lived until he passed away in 1974 at the age of 69 following an extended illness.

Looking at some of his other published stories, it turns out there was an earlier plagiarized Wasp story that appeared in the April 1929 Flying Aces. This would make it the first of the Wasp stories. The issue also include a letter of thanks for publishing from Campbell!

In all Campbell had six stories of the Wasps published. Each was a virtual word for word copy of a preexisting story of the Three Mosquitoes by Ralph Oppenhiem. They were:

  • Flying To Glory (Flying Aces, Apr 1929) is based on Oppenheim’s Down from the Clouds (War Stories, Aug 19, 1927)
  • Reckless and Lucky (Eagles of the Air, Oct 1929) is based on Oppenheim’s Two Aces~and A Joker (War Birds, Jun 1928)
  • Dangerous Business (Eagles of the Air, Nov 1929) is based on Oppenheim’s Stacked Cards (War Birds, Jul 1928)
  • Luck of the Wasps (Eagles of the Air, Jan 1930) is from Oppenheim’s An Ace In The Hole (War Stories Mar 29, 1928)
  • Three Flying Fools (Eagles of the Air Feb 1930) is from Oppenheim’s Get That Gun (War Stories Nov 8, 1928)
  • The Wasps (Eagles of the Air Mar 1930) is from Oppenheim’s Two Aces—In Dutch (War Stories, Dec 6, 1928)

But what better way than to see for yourself. So we’ll be posting couple of the Wasps’ adventures over the next week. As the Three Mosquitoes and the Three Wasps would both say, “Let’s Go!”

The first of D. Campbell’s Three Wasps stories appeared in the pages of the April 1929 Flying Aces. The greatest fighting war-birds on the Western Front roar into action. The three Spads flying in a V formation so precise that they seemed as one. On their trim khaki fuselages, were three identical insignias—each a huge, black-painted picture of a grim-looking wasp. In the cockpits sat the reckless, inseparable trio known as the “Three Wasps.” Captain Gary, their impetuous young leader, always flying point. On his right, “Shorty” Keen, the mild-eyed, corpulent little Mosquito, who loved his sleep. And on Kirby’s left, completing the V, the eldest and wisest of the trio—long-faced and taciturn Cooper.

A new C.O. has been assigned to the squadron and he can’t stand pilots who “grand-stand” which is the Mosquitoes stock-in-trade and boy do they catch hell when they get on the C.O.’s wrong side—that is until the C.O. gets in a jam and it’s trick flying that’ll save him when the Boche attack!

The C.O. called them babies and forbade stunt flying. Not content with that he separated the Three Wasps, the greatest flying, fighting trio he had. Hatred was rampant. But all this was forgotten when the great call came!

Compare this to Oppenheim’s original version of the story with The Three Mosquitoes!

Down from the Clouds

The C.O. of the flying field was sore—the Three Mosquitoes, dare-devils supreme were doing their “grand-stand stuff” again. But when the C.O. found himself in difficulties, with Boche planes swarming all around him—things were different. The best flying story of the month.

And check back on Friday when the Wasps will be back with another exciting adventure!

“Two Aces—in Dutch” by Ralph Oppenheim

Link - Posted by David on March 15, 2024 @ 6:00 am in

THROUGH the dark night sky, streaking swiftly with their Hisso engines thundering, is the greatest trio of aces on the Western Front—the famous and inseparable “Three Mosquitoes,” the mightiest flying combination that had ever blazed its way through overwhelming odds and laughed to tell of it! Flying in a V formation—at point was Captain Kirby, impetuous young leader of the great trio; on his right was little Lieutenant “Shorty” Carn, the mild-eyed, corpulent little Mosquito and lanky Lieutenant Travis, eldest and wisest of the Mosquitoes on his left!

We’re back with the third and final of three Ralph Oppenheim’s Three Mosquitoes stories we’re featuring this March for Mosquito Month! And this one’s a doozy! In a dogfight to the death, Kirby and the German Ace known as “The Killer” both end up going down—unfortunately, their fight had taken them off course and they have cashed in neutral Holland where both are taken into custody and are sentenced to remain in the country until the war’s end. The two bitter enemies in the air, build a fast friendship on the ground and must rely on one another if they are to escape and get back to their own squadrons! Read this incredible story in Ralph Oppenheim’s “Two Aces—in Dutch” from the December 6th, 1928 issue of War Stories!

Kirby bad sworn to get Von Sterner, “The Killer.” Now they had met in fair combat, and the leader of the “Three Mosquitoes” was plunging to earth in a plane riddled by the Killer’s bullets. But he was not alone. The Killer’s Albatross was falling beside the crippled Spad. Then face to face on the ground, these two men, the Yank and the German, found themselves the victims of one of war’s strange tricks!

“The Invisible Ace” by Ralph Oppenheim

Link - Posted by David on March 8, 2024 @ 6:00 am in

“LET’S GO!” Once more, The Three Mosquitoes familiar battle cry rings out over the western front and the three khaki Spads take to the air, each sporting the famous Mosquito insignia. In the cockpits sat three warriors who were known wherever men flew as the greatest and most hell raising trio of aces ever to blaze their way through overwhelming odds—always in front was Kirby, their impetuous young leader. Flanking him on either side were the mild-eyed and corpulent Shorty Carn, and lanky Travis, the eldest and wisest Mosquito.

We’re back with the second of three tales of Ralph Oppenheim’s Three Mosquitoes we’re featuring this March for Mosquito Month! This week, our intrepid trio hunt for the Invisible Ace!

Seven Spads had fallen beneath the twin Spandau guns of the Invisible Ace— so called because no one had really seen this German flyer. Only a flash of wings in the sunlight, a black-cross insignia, a streaking gray shape—that was all they had seen of him. So swift would be the execution—like the trick of a master magician where the “hand is quicker than the eye”—that the other pilots of the flight could never spring into action until it was too late. They would hear the burst of machine-gun fire, and when they turned they would see the victim hurtling below them. But the Invisible Ace would already be up in the sun again, safe from prying eyes. So the Three Mosquitoes are tasked with bringing “The Invisible Ace” to light and ending his reign of terror! From the May 10th, 1928 issue of War Stories, it’s Ralph Oppenheim’s “The Invisible Ace!”

The Invisible Ace was raising hell with the squadron, and—But it’s another great flying yarn about the famous “Three Mosquitoes,” so why spill any more words about it?

And check back next Friday when the inseparable trio will be back with another exciting adventure!

“Smashed Wings” by Ralph Oppeheim

Link - Posted by David on March 1, 2024 @ 6:00 am in

MARCH is Mosquito Month! We’re celebrating Ralph Oppenheim and his greatest creation—”The Three Mosquitoes! We’ll be featuring three early tales of the Mosquitoes over the next few Fridays as well as looking at D. Campbell’s The Three Wasps, a blatant Mosquitoes ripoff. So, let’s get things rolling, as the Mosquitoes like to say as they get into action—“Let’s Go!”

The greatest fighting war-birds on the Western Front are once again roaring into action. The three Spads flying in a V formation so precise that they seemed as one. On their trim khaki fuselages, were three identical insignias—each a huge, black-painted picture of a grim-looking mosquito. In the cockpits sat the reckless, inseparable trio known as the “Three Mosquitoes.” Captain Kirby, their impetuous young leader, always flying point. On his right, “Shorty” Carn, the mild-eyed, corpulent little Mosquito, who loved his sleep. And on Kirby’s left, completing the V, the eldest and wisest of the trio—long-faced and taciturn Travis.

Let’s get things off the ground with an early Mosquitoes tale from the pages of War Stories from January 1928! The enterprise was extremely dangerous, though simple. The Three Mosquitoes had been assigned to escort a flight of bombers that were to go across the lines to Staffletz, where, besides an important railroad junction, there were some Zeppelin sheds. The railway was to be damaged as much as possible, and then the machines were to ‘‘lay their eggs” on the Zeppelin sheds. Complicating matters—Kirby was flying in an unfamiliar, old Sopwith rather than his usual Spad!

Once again the ‘’Three Mosquitoes,” with the famous Kirby leading them, go out on a daring mission. The enemy’s Zeppelin sheds had to be destroyed—But could it be done? And Kirby was flying an old plane!

And check back next Friday when the inseparable trio will be back with another exciting adventure!

“The Balloon-Gun Kid” by Andrew A. Caffrey

Link - Posted by David on February 23, 2024 @ 6:00 am in

THIS week we have another story from one of the new flight of authors on the site this year—Andrew A. Caffrey. Caffrey, who was in the American Air Service in France during The Great War and worked for the air mail service upon his return, was a prolific author of aviation and adventure stories for both the pulps and slicks from the 1920’s through 1950. Here Caffrey tells the tale of Lieutenant Paul Storm.

Lieutenant Paul Storm was a few years shy of being twenty. Yes, that was young. But Storm was an exceptional hand with a ship. He had been exceptional from the first time he’d ever taken his place in a rear cockpit for instruction. He learned how to fly in three hours. As a rule, ten hours was considered mighty fast. Storm was so good, he was placed on a free-lance status allowing him to fight where and when and with whom he liked. From the July 1929 number of Sky Birds, it’s Andrew A. Caffrey’s “The Balloon-Gun Kid!”

Storm was an airman—every inch of him. When he started out free-lancing, even the sullen sides helped him to batter and spin his way to victory!

“At Target 808″ by O.B. Myers

Link - Posted by David on February 16, 2024 @ 6:00 am in

THIS week we have a story from the pen of a prolific pulp author O.B. Myers! Myers was a pilot himself, flying with the 147th Aero Squadron and carrying two credited victories and awarded the Distinguished Service Cross.

Bat Armstrong and Chuck Pearce were tired of réglage work in an old Sopwith behind enemy lines. But when a new, speedy S.E.5 is stolen, they manage to prove it’s not how fast your ship is, but knowing where you are—and hopefully that’s not “At Target 808!” From the pages of the January 1933 number of Flying Aces!

Down upon that swiftly moving Fokker dived the ancient Sop Strutter—and the Fokker fled. But those two Yanks should have guessed that tohen a speedy German scout ran from a clumsy observation crate, danger lay ahead—a danger greater than Spandau bullets!

Heroes of the Air: Capt. A. Beauchamp-Proctor

Link - Posted by David on February 12, 2024 @ 6:00 am in

WHEN Flying, the new weekly paper of all things aviation, started up in England in 1938, amongst the articles and stories and photo features was an illustrative feature called “Heroes of the Air.” It was a full page illustration by S. Drigin of the events surrounding how the pictured Ace got their Victoria Cross along with a brief explanatory note.

Russian born Serge Drigin became a successful illustrator in the UK in the 1920s with his work regularly appearing in such British magazines as The Detective Magazine, Modern Boy and Chums. He is probably best known for his startling covers for Scoops, Air Stories, War Stories, Fantasy and others in the 30s.

From the 16 July 1938 issue of Flying:


CAPTAIN ANDREW BEAUCHAMP-PROCTOR, who was a South African, served in France with the renowned 84 Squadron, where he won many decorations. He flew an S.E.5A. Like Albert Ball, he was awarded the V.C. for continuous bravery over a long period, not for one particular action. Very little is known about this valorous air fighter, so let us quote from the London Gazette of November 30, 1918. “Between August 8, 1918 and October 8, 1918, this officer proved himself victor in twenty-six decisive combats, destroying twelve kite balloons, ten enemy aircraft, and driving down four other enemy aircraft completely out of control. . . . Captain Beauchamp-Proctor’s work in attacking enemy troops on the ground and in reconnaissance has been almost unsurpassed in its brilliancy, and as such has made an impression on those serving in his squadron and those around him that will not be easily forgotten.” Unhappily this gallant officer lost his life in a crash after the war. On June 21 he was practising for the R.A.F. display, when his machine went into a spin and crashed before he had time to get it under control. In this way ended the career of one who had cheated death so many times in aerial combat.

“Fortune Flyers” by Robert Carter

Link - Posted by David on February 2, 2024 @ 6:00 am in

THIS week we have a exciting air adventure from the pen of Robert Carter. Carter was a decorated WWI aviator who flew Bristol Fighters along the Italian front and poured this experience into the pulp stories he wrote from 1927 to 1929 for magazines like Aces, Air Trails, Air Stories, Battle Stories, War Birds and Wings.

When Webb Foster sacrifices his new plane to save a man in trouble, a wealthy Mr. Charlton hires him on to pilot his new plane on his expedition to Biplane Island to find a fortune in gold! From the December 1929 Wings, it’s Robert Carter’s “Fortune Flyers!”

Treasure waits under tropic seas. High in the skies above the Spanish Main, Webb Foster peers down upon coral reefs. And buccaneers of the air fly to do murder for hidden gold. . . .


As a bonus, here’s a brief biographical sketch of Carter from Air Trails’ November 1929 “Landing Field” Column:

THIS month we’ve dragged another one of Air Trails’ pilot-writers out of his cockpit so that you folks can take a look at him. It’s hard to get these flying fellows to pose for their pictures. Most of them are so darned camera shy that you have to chase them all over the sky and shoot their props off before they’ll come down and act sensible. But sometimes you can catch them off guard.

We got Robert Carter out to lunch the other day and said: “How about telling the folks something about yourself?” This was the fiftieth time we’d asked him the same question; but each time before he’d stalled us. Most pilots can stall just like a motor with a bug in the gas lines. But this time Carter sort of grinned and said he’d see about it. He’d just come back from a flight out to meet one of the big transatlantic liners. He’d flown in and around and over a fog bank as big as all outdoors, and for once his motor was working in good shape. He didn’t stall.

The very next day he sent us a slip of paper about two by three inches in size with a few details of his life written on it. It wasn’t much, but it was something. He also enclosed a picture of himself in a service uniform. Our staff artist made a line drawing of it.

Robert Carter is a Southerner by birth, and a Georgia Tech graduate. We want to say here that that’s a good start for any man. We’ve seen the Georgia Tech football team in action. They don’t make ‘em any better than you’ll find ‘em down where the Georgia peaches grow.

When the World War started it didn’t take Robert Carter long to get in it. He flew a Bristol Fighter on the Italian front—a tricky little two-place ship, death on landing, and powered with a water-cooled motor. He taught a good many Italians how to fly. Then he got into the thick of the fighting, was shot down once and received some painful wounds during a night bombardment.

At the end of the war Carter came home with a limp, ten dollars in his pocket, and a decoration. He has fifteen hundred air hours logged and certified too. Carter is a regular fellow. He tried to forget his war experience; but no one would let him. Some bright editor insisted that he write air stories. He did, and there you are.

Like the other men who are writing for Air Trails, his stories ring true because he knows a joy stick from the clutch on a tin lizzie. He doesn’t need to take a ride in a carnival shoot-the-chutes to get air action and “atmosphere.”

“Please Omit Flowers” by Joe Archibald

Link - Posted by David on January 26, 2024 @ 6:00 am in

“HAW-W-W-W-W!” That sound can only mean one thing—that Bachelor of Artifice, Knight of Calamity and an alumnus of Doctor Merlin’s Camelot College for Conjurors is back to vex not only the Germans, but the Americans—the Ninth Pursuit Squadron in particular—as well. Yes it’s the marvel from Boonetown, Iowa himself—Lieutenant Phineas Pinkham!

With Mannheim gone, the morale of the Fokkers had waned a bit and, for the past few days, the Spads of the Ninth Pursuit Squadron had been enjoying the upper hand in the sky. But today something hit the tarmac with greater force than a Gotha egg. C flight came back tattered and bruised with some very bad news—Von Holke and his The Death’s-Head Squadron had moved in to the area! And they were looking for the pilot who had taken out Mannheim—Lieutenant Phineas Pinkham!

There was one thing von Holke, famous German ace, wanted more than anything else—to see Phineas “Carbuncle” Pinkham lowered into the ground in a long, black box. And Phineas would do—well, almost anything to oblige an enemy!

“Grindin’ High” by Frederick C. Davis

Link - Posted by David on January 19, 2024 @ 6:00 am in

THIS week we have a short story by renowned pulp author Frederick C. Davis. Davis is probably best remembered for his work on Operator 5 where he penned the first 20 stories, as well as the Moon Man series for Ten Detective Aces and several other continuing series for various Popular Publications. He also wrote a number of aviation stories that appeared in Aces, Wings and Air Stories.

This week’s story features that crack pilot for World News Reel, the greatest gelatine newspaper that ever flashed on a silver screen—Nick Royce! Davis wrote twenty stories with Nick for Wings magazine from 1928-1931. Here, in his first story, Nick is mistaken for a world famous stunt flyer while trying to wrangle a job with the World news Newsreel service. And although he doesn’t make a good first impression he does come up with the goods in the end! From the January 1928 Wings, it’s Frederick C. Davis’ “Grinding’ High!”

A blazing steamer—a roaring furnace amid a vast expanse of desolate sea—and Nick Royce, fledgling, zoomed for the greatest scoop of all to prove himself a birdman!

“The Night-Raid Patrol” by Eustace Adams

Link - Posted by David on January 12, 2024 @ 6:00 am in

THIS week we have a story from the prolific pen of Eustace L. Adams. Born in 1891, Adams was an editor and author who served in the American Ambulance Service and the US Naval Service during The Great War. His aviation themed stories started appearing in 1928 in the various war and aviation pulps—Air Trails, Flying Aces, War Stories, Wings, War Birds, Sky Birds, Under Fire, Air Stories and Argosy. He is probably best remembered for the dozen or so airplane boys adventure books he wrote for the Andy Lane series.

Lieutenant Bull Meehan, U.S.N., was in a mood. And when Bull was in a mood, let it be said that the United States Naval Air Station at Souilly-sur-mer was a place over which the sun hid behind lowering clouds; where red wine soured on the mess table; where flatfooted gob sentries paced their beats with the snap and the devotion to duty of Imperial Household Guardsmen and where the young naval aviators gathered in the lee of the hangars and cursed with great feeling and remarkable fluency. It was at this time, Ensign Wadsworth arrived wearing his Croix de Guerre under his gold naval aviator’s badge and had a record of two years’ flying service with the French Army…

From the August 1929 issue of Sky Birds, it’s Eustace Adams’ “The Night-Raid Patrol!”

A smashing hit! Follow this plucky Yankee flier through hell-popping adventure. See him zig-zag through the air, spewing havoc and destruction, locking wings with his venomous C.O. Here is a thrilling yam from the pen of a master of tale-spinner!


As a bonus, here’s an article about the author himself from the Akron Beacon Journal in 1940!

Argument With Wife Started Eustace Adams’ Career; Author of Adventure Tales Now Wants To Do ‘Better’ Things

by Naomi Bender • Akron Beacon Journal, Akron, Ohio • Sunday, March 24, 1934, p.9-D

MIAMI, Fla., March 23.— Ever hear of Eustace L. Adams? Probably not, yet he’s in “Who’s Who”—there’s three inches of small type about him—he writes serials and short stories for most of the better magazines.

He’s had dozens of boys’ books published, as well as a few adventure novels. His works have been published in England. They’re called “Sovereign Thrillers” there, or, in the vernacular, “Shilling Shockers.” He’s 49 and he makes enough money out of his writing to be in the upper income brackets. He calls himself just a good “potboiler.”

“And I have no message for suffering humanity,” the athletic-looking author said, with a grin, as he puffed on a cigaret. We were seated in his workroom, at the rear of his home on Palm island overlooking the bay.

He’s a likable fellow, this Adams, with a nice grin, kindly blue eyes and a nautical air about him. That’s probably because, when he’s not working, you’ll usually find him on his tiny sailboat, for sailing is his one and only pastime.

Argument Changes Career

He was an aviator during the war. After that, he became a salesman for an advertising concern. Then fate stepped in and shoved him into a completely different profession.

It all started over an argument with his wife. Well, not exactly an argument, but it was like this:

Mr. Adams traveled quite a bit so his wife decided to take a course in journalism to keep herself busy. That started her writing short stories but, like many an amateur writer, her intentions were better than the results. She rarely, if ever, finished her stories.

So naturally, one day, friend husband said, with a very superior air: “I bet I could write one of those confession stories you’re always playing around with. I’ll show you how to do it.”

And naturally, friend wife, knowing her husband had never written a line in his life, reacted just as any wife would—with a big raspberry.

But this time the husband won the decision. He not only wrote the story, but he received a handsome check as first prize winner of a confession story contest.

This was very nice indeed, but Adams still thought a good job with an advertising concern was better than the doubtful security of writing.

Then Lindbergh made his sensational hop across the Atlantic, which might seem to have no connection with the life of Eustace L. Adams but did.

Adams had been a professional aviator; he had also won a confessional story contest. Lindbergh’s flight put a premium on stories with a factual aviation background. And the pulp magazine editor thought of Adams.

”It just happened that at the time I was one of the few literate persons who knew anything about flying,” Adams modestly explained.

He wrote a serial and five short stories in 60 days and sold them all.

From that time on, he has been a professional writer.

Starts Early, Quits Early

He says he keeps “regular office hours” but there are few offices where the employees arrive at 5 o’clock every morning. Adams works until noon each day on an electric typewriter and then he’s through for the day.

“I take only two holidays a year,” he said, “the 4th of July and Christmas.”

He reads a lot, chiefly better fiction and magazines, plenty of magazines.

“I’m just like an architect looking at other architects’ houses,” he stated. “Times change in popular fiction; each year there’s a tiny shift in fashions and I have to keep up with them if I want to sell my stuff.”

There are days when he’s wished he were a plumber or a dentist. “Anything,” he said, with a wry grin, “but what I am, which forces me to sit here at the typewriter whether I want to or not.”

And he does sit there, without doodling, for a stipulated time each day even when he can’t write a line he thinks is worth a hoot.

For, as with all authors, there are dry periods when things just won’t come through

“Then I try to remember what Edith Wharton once said. It’s helped me over many a tough spot when my mind’s as empty as a bass drum. ’Just put one word after another laboriously,’ she said, ’juat carry your hero along and keep on plodding, then all of a sudden things begin to go.’”

He works on one story at a time even though he does turn out millions of words each year. He doesn’t use a plot machine, either He’s tried it, he confesses, but it didn’t work. He sells the majority of the stories he writes. He has a little card file on which he keeps a record of each story he has written and its fate. If the story sells, the amount is marked down neatly, with the date and the publication to which it was sold. If it flopped, this is noted on cards that go into the rear of the file, marked “Rejected.” The number of these cards is very small.

Like all authors who depend on their writing for a living. Adams fears the day when he may run out of ideas or may not be able to sell his stories.

But when that day comes he hopes to have enough money so that he can sit back and relax and enjoy life.

Influence Isn’t Necessary

Here’s how he would advise those who aspire to be professional “entertainment writers.”

Study the magazines to which you want to sell your stories. “You can’t just write a story, send it around to every magazine from the pulps to the slicks and get it sold. It has to be directed to a particular publication.”

You don’t need any influence with magazine editors. If your stories are good, they’ll grab them.

“About the only break I get,” the author said, “is that if I send a story in that Isn’t quite right, I’ll get It back with something like this written on it. ‘On page 33, you stink. Or your heroine is out of line, fix her up.’ Then I revise the story, send it back and it has a good chance of being accepted.

“The chief handicap any young writer has to overcome,” Adams continued, “Is getting gun shy in front of the typewriter. Most amateurs have to cure themselves of buck fever before they can do their best. Once that’s licked, half battle is won.”

Tucked somewhere back in his mind is the thought that some day he may do a “real job of writing ”

He knows most popular authors feel that way and he’s not kidding himself.

“Naturally I would like to do better things,” he confessed frankly. “It would be swell to have real genius, like Hemingway in ‘The Killer’ or ’The Sun Also Rises,’ or Steinbeck In ‘The Grapes of Wrath.’ I would like to say to myself that, if I had five years I could do something good, too. I know it may be just an illusion, but I also know that many of our best writers got their training first in the pulp magazine field.”

Heroes of the Air: Capt. F.M. West

Link - Posted by David on January 8, 2024 @ 6:00 am in

WHEN Flying, the new weekly paper of all things aviation, started up in England in 1938, amongst the articles and stories and photo features was an illustrative feature called “Heroes of the Air.” It was a full page illustration by S. Drigin of the events surrounding how the pictured Ace got their Victoria Cross along with a brief explanatory note.

Russian born Serge Drigin became a successful illustrator in the UK in the 1920s with his work regularly appearing in such British magazines as The Detective Magazine, Modern Boy and Chums. He is probably best known for his startling covers for Scoops, Air Stories, War Stories, Fantasy and others in the 30s.

From the 9 July 1938 issue of Flying:


ON THE morning of August 10, 1918, Captain Ferdinand Maurice West took off with his observer to strafe the German back areas. For this purpose he went far over the enemy lines and he was flying low, attacking infantry, when seven German scouts came upon him. In his Armstrong Whitworth the odds against him were enormous. Quite early in the fight an explosive bullet shattered his leg, which fouled the rudder-bar and caused the machine to fall out of control. No sooner had he lifted his leg clear than he was wounded in the other. In spite of his predicament, he managed to manoeuvre his machine so as to enable his gunner to get in sufficient bursts of fire to drive off the hostile scouts. Then, with great courage and determination, he set off for the British lines, where he landed safely. Weak from loss of blood, he fainted, but when he regained consciousness he insisted on writing his report before going to the hospital. Happily this gallant officer recovered sufficiently to remain in the service, where he is now a Wing Commander.

“Flaming Bullets” by Franklin M. Ritchie

Link - Posted by David on January 5, 2024 @ 6:00 am in

THIS week we have another story by Franklin M. Ritchie. Ritchie only wrote aviation yarns and his entire output—roughly three dozen stories—was between 1927 and 1930. Today we have another one from the lawyer who wrote pulp stories on the side to satisfy his yen for flying. From an early issue of Sky Birds, Ritchie gives us a tale of the chivalry of the air—but from the German point of view. Enter young Oberleutnant Fritz von Hullesheim who gets himself into a real mess over his flight leaders use of incendiary bullets in his air battles.

From the April 1929 issue of Sky Birds, it’s Franklin M. Ritchie’s “Flaming Bullets!”

The amazing chivalry of the men of the air astounded the whole world during the war. They were true sportsmen, those sky-fighters. Here is a breath-taking yarn from behind the enemy lines showing how the picture looked through the eyes of German War Flyers!

“Traitor’s Tune” by Arch Whitehouse

Link - Posted by David on December 29, 2023 @ 6:00 am in

THIS month we’re celebrating the Christmas Season with The Coffin Crew! Yes, Arch Whitehouse’s hell-raising Handley Page bomber crew! Piloting the bus is the mad Englishman, Lieutenant Graham Townsend, with the equally mad Canadian Lieutenant Phil Armitage serving as reserve pilot and bombing officer with Private Andy McGregor, still wearing his Black Watch kilts, rounding out the front end crew in the forward gun turret. And don’t forget the silent fighting Irishman Sergeant Michael Ryan, usually dragging on his short clay pipe while working over the toggle board dropping the bombs with Alfred Tate and crazy Australian Andy Marks or Horsey Horlick manning the rear gun turret.

Hawker, Ball, Rhys-Davids, McCudden, Mannock—and now Mackenzie—lost. The news of Mackenzie’s disastrous loss spred quickly—youthful Major Mackenzie, the colorful British ace of Scottish ancestry, had captured the imagination of every soldier in the British trenches. They dubbed him “The Mad Major” because of his amazingly daring exploits in “ground strafing” German trenches. Lost.

Enter the Coffin Crew! Somehow The Coffin Crew turns their disastrous landing behind enemy lines to their benefit when Andy McGregor’s curiosity is peaked as the Crew try to head back across the lines unmolested.

From the pages of the January 1938 number of the British Air Stories, it’s Arch Whitehouse’s final Coffin Crew tale—”Traitor’s Tune!”

It was a Strange Clue that First Linked a Lonely Graveyard behind the Enemy’s Lines with the Mysterious Disappearance of Britain’s Greatest Air Fighters, and Led that Crazy Band of Night Bombers, the Coffin Crew, upon the Most Desperate Adventure of their Madcap Fighting Career!

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