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“The Vanishing Ace” by Andrew A. Caffrey

Link - Posted by David on June 7, 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 Loop Murry, stunt flier for the movies who learns there’s sometime more to a man than meets the eye. From the May 1929 number of Sky Birds, it’s Andrew A. Caffrey’s “The Vanishing Ace!”

They all thought Tilton Mills was a dumb-Dora when it came to flying even though he wrote the script he was playing in. Loop Murry was doing the stunting, and damning the leading man below—but when Loop’s machine crashed in a burst of flame Tilton Mills turned out to be more than just actor-playwright!

“Winged Conspiracy” by Frank Richardson Pierce

Link - Posted by David on May 10, 2024 @ 6:00 am in

THIS week we have another exciting air adventure with Rusty Wade from the pen of Frank Richardson Pierce. Pierce is probably best remembered for his prolific career in the Western Pulps. Writing under his own name as well as two pen names—Erle Stanly Pierce and Seth Ranger. Pierce’s career spanned fifty years and produced over 1,500 short stories, with over a thousand of these appearing in the pages of Argosy and the Saturday Evening Post.

Rusty’s passenger was an Alaskan, but curiously enough the old sour dough was headed for a middle-west city instead of the North. The man had offered him a thousand dollars to land him in time for a ten o’clock stockholders’ meeting and Rusty seemed in a fair way to claim the money. It was purely a sporting proposition with him. If he failed he would not get a cent.

From the pages of the September 1929 Air Trails, it’s our old pal Rusty Wade in Frank Richardson Pierce’s “Winged Conspiracy!”

Rusty Wade lands in the middle of white water and a snarling hail of bullets!

“Say It With Bombs” by Franklin M. Ritchie

Link - Posted by David on May 3, 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 Flying Aces, Ritchie gives us a tale of bomber Jim Barker who longed to show everyone that even a bombing pilot can get Germany’s most ruthless Ace, by any means necessary! From the February 1929 issue of Flying Aces, it’s Franklin M. Ritchie’s “Say It With Bombs!”

When the swarm of German Fokkers swept out of the clouds and met an American bombing party they struck a lot of red-hot action they hadn’t counted on. Jim Barker believed in using whatever tools are at hand—and, “They Learned about bombs from him.”

“Dangerous Business” by D. Campbell

Link - Posted by David on March 25, 2024 @ 6:00 am in

WE’RE back with a third 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.

Oppenheim gave us a real nail-biter when he first wrote it—Campbell’s version is just as nail-biting. Important, time-sensitive information needed for an Allied offensive against the Boche has been hidden in the crotch of a forked tree down a dirt path in the woods on Field 23. Intelligence operatives have been unable to retrieve this information. As a last ditch effort, they figure a lone flyer may be able to land on the field, retrieve the information, and get out before the Germans in the area could stop them. Gary is this flyer. Landing in the midst of German troops and retrieving the info is the easy part, keeping his two pals—Cooper and Keen from tagging along is the hard part!

Death rumbled in the guns of the waiting German infantry—but death meant nothing to Gary. He swooped down on the scene and rode his quarry to the kill!

Editor’s Note: Although Campbell does try to make this one more his own by changing Field 21 to 23, he is already starting to get sloppy as he neglected to change “Mosquitoes” to “Wasps” in several instances. These have been highlighted in red when they occur.

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

Stacked Cards

It was Intelligence stuff, and Kirby could not even tell his two buddies. He took off alone—for Germany—and how was he to know that the cards were stacked against him? Another of Oppenheim’s breathless thrillers.

“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!

“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!

The Pulp Plagiarism Scandal of 1929

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

IF FRIDAY’S story seemed a little familiar to you, there may be a reason for that. The entire story was plagiarized from another. In this case it was Ben Conlon’s “Flyers of Fortune” (Air Trails, July 1929). Yes, Carter’s “Fortune Flyers” was a virtual word for word rip off of Conlon’s earlier story.

Everything seemed to be going Robert A. Carter’s way. A former Canadian war time ace, he was Married in 1925, with a girl born the following year, the former Canadian war time ace had found a way to profit off his past experiences by not only editing two of Fiction House’s Aviation pulps—Air Stories and Wings, but he was also getting his own stories in including a 14 part series on “How to Become a Pilot” that ran in both magazines.

Toward the end of 1928, it all started to unravel.

Turns out that loving wife and child was more of a ball and chain to Carter who found he preferred the company of his friends over them. As the Port Chester Daily Item reported on January 12th:

Alimony of $35 a week and counsel fees of $500 must be paid to Mrs. Michelena Carter, of 88 Chatswood Avenue, Larchmont, by her husband, Robert A. Carter, editor of aeronautical fiction magazines, according to award made here by Supreme Court Justice George H. Taylor, Jr., in Special Term. The award was made by default as no opposition was presented by the husband.
      According to the wife’s complaint, she married Carter on August 6, 1925, at Catskill and they have lived since in this county. There is one child, Mary Elizabeth, born November 17, 1926.
      Carter, according to his wife, is thirty years of age and is employed by the Fiction House, Inc., 271 Madison Avenue, New York City. as editor of two aeronautical fiction magazines, “Wings” and “Air Stories.” He receives a salary of $40 weekly, she alleges, and from $25 to $60 for each story he furnishes the magazines.
      Basing her plea for separation on the grounds of cruelty and abandonment, Mrs. Carter alleges that without cause or provocation, Carter absented himself from their Larchmont home for several nights a week from August to December of last year. Even the Christmas holiday was spent away from home, she says, her husband telling her he preferred to spend his time with friends.
      On December 28th, she says, he packed his clothes and left with the statement that he did not intend to return and that he was “through” with her. She alleges that he left no money for her needs, that her baby is ill, and that she is without funds with which to purchase medicines or the services of a physician.
      The alimony awarded is pending the trial of the separation action.

Although the home life may have fallen apart, his writing career seemed to flourish as he started to see print in other titles—Aces, Air Trails, Flying Aces and War Birds. Which is good, since Carter and his estranged wife entered into a stipulation on June 4th whereby he was to pay $40 weekly out of his $100 weekly earnings as a magazine writer and the daring hero of many magazine exploits in the air.

He lived up to the agreement for two weeks before disappearing sight unseen.

Maybe this is why he was so hard to pin down and seemed a little cagey in that Air Trail’s biographical piece from November 1929. Or maybe it was the fact that he had already plagiarized several stories and submitted them to his boss at Fiction House, John B. Kelly as his own! And with the publication of the December 1929 issue of Wings, it all hit the fan!

The Pulp Plagiarism Scandal of 1929
The Stories in Question. The opening pages of Ben Conlon’s “Flyers of Fortune” (Air Trails, July 1929) and Robert A. Carter’s “Fortune Flyers” (Wings, December 1929)

The Port Chester Daily Item reports (on the front page!):

When the Muse failed and he resorted to plagiarism to keep the candle burning at both ends Robert A. Carter, thirty-two, self styled World War aviator, who is well known in Harrison and Rye, let himself in for plenty of trouble. He was lodged in the Tombs Prison in New York City today, charged with grand larceny as the result of a confession that he copied aviation stories verbatim from one magazine and sold them to another.
      The specific instance on which the charge is based concerns the story “Flyers of Fortune,” by Ben Conlin, published in “Air Trails.” Carter is alleged to have copied it word for word and sold it to the magazine “Wings” under the title “Fortune Flyers.” For it he received $240 from John B. Kelly, head of Fiction House, Inc., of 271 Madison Avenue, New York City.
      Carter, who formerly lived in Harrison, was arrested by a detective from the office of Assistant District Attorney Edward Laughlin at his home, 25 East 30th Street. He was indicted by the grand Jury on a grand larceny charge and a bench warrant issued for his arrest. The Indictment was based mainly on a written confession to Kelly, in which Carter admitted having plagiarized the story as well as two others.
      According to Kelly, Carter came to him about two and a half years ago and asked for a job. He said be had served in the Royal Flying Corps in Italy during the war and thought he could write stories of his experiences. He was given a Job and his stories, when published, were enthusiastically received. He was soon made managing editor of “Wings” and a little later arranged a broadcast from the Hotel Roosevelt in which he introduced several famous wa races. He also did some work for a Brooklyn station and later represented himself as the director, which was the first Intimation that Kelly had of his duplicity.

Kelly estimated Carter managed to extract $1,100 from the company through his plagiaristic efforts.

After his apprehension, it was discovered that fiction filching was the most remunerative, but not the exclusive manner of his making a living. Two Manhattan hotels had $850 worth of bad bills against him.

Convicted of the charges petty larceny, Plagiarist Carter was sentenced to serve not less than six months, nor more than three years in the penitentiary.

The 1930 US Census lists Robert A. Carter as an inmate of Cell Block A at the Hart Island Reformatory Prison in the Bronx.

This story was big news. Although it never received large splashy headlines, Carter’s plagiarism was reported in papers as if it had just happened well into 1932. It even made Time magazine—twice! Once in the 23 December 1929 issue and a more detailed piece two months later in the 24 February 1930 issue.

“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.”

“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.”

“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!

“Flying Ghosts” by Franklin M. Ritchie

Link - Posted by David on November 10, 2023 @ 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 the premier issue of the short lived Eagle of the Air, Ritchie tells the story of rookie pilot Eric Folsom and his rise to responsible squadron veteran.

From the October 1929 issue of Eagles of the Air, it’s Franklin M. Ritchie’s “Flying Ghosts!”

Battle on battle surged in the clouds—men leaped to death through tracer-scorched skies—but when the squadron leaders went down, Eric Folsom just had to find his wings!

“The Phantom Fokker” by Fred Denton Moon

Link - Posted by David on October 20, 2023 @ 6:00 am in

THIS week we have another one of the few stories from Fred Denton Moon. Moon was born in Athens, Georgia in 1905 and was a freelance writer. A former staff member of The Atlanta Journal Sunday Magazinesince 1930, he was the first editor of the Journal’s wire photo service as well as former city editor of the Journal. He was member of the Society of Professional Journalists/Sigma Delta Chi and retired from the Georgia Department of Labor in 1971. Moon died in 1982 at the age of 76.

Jeff Potts was the best-natured man in the Red Dot. Also, the most fearless. He’d won a string of medals before most of the other boys started realizing that a little scrap was going on in France. But he never bragged. In fact, Jeff Potts was so reckless in his fearlessness, a few of the men had an idea that he was just a little bit off. But even those who thought he was queer liked him a heap. The Red Dot actually seemed to centre around Jeff Potts. He was the life of the field. So when Jeff came back from a night time bombing mission with a story of a Phantom Fokker, the rest of the squadron didn’t quite know how to take it—or him. It wasn’t until long after the war that Jeff learned the truth behind “The Phantom Fokker!” From the pages of the March 1929 issue of Sky Birds.

A weird, strange story of a baffling encounter with a ghost of the air.

“Square—Hell!” by O.B. Myers

Link - Posted by David on October 6, 2023 @ 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.

This time, Mr. Myers gives us a tale of the supposed chivalry among enemy pilots in “Square—Hell!” from the pages of the June 1929 number of War Novels!

“Give them both guns in the guts”—that was the flight commander’s treatment for disabled enemy flyers. But air warfare to Larry Fowler was still a game, to be played according to certain rules of sportsmanship.

“Sky Pictures” by Raoul Whitfield

Link - Posted by David on September 8, 2023 @ 6:00 am in

THIS week we have a story from Raoul Whitfield. Whitfield was a prolific pulp writer primarily known for his hardboiled crime fiction published in the pages of Black Mask, but he was equally adept at lighter fair that might run in the pages of Breezy Stories. We’ve featured a number of his Buck Kent stories that ran in Air Trails, but this time we have a WWI tale!

What are the chances of two men from the same squadron, assigned to the same D.H. for reconnaissance photos, having the same picture of a girl from back home on their coop walls? From the June 1929 number of Over The Top, it’s Raoul Whitfield’s “The Sky Joker!”

Photographs, military and otherwise, bring trouble to a certain American flying squadron in France.

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