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“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!

“Crumpled Buzzard” by Franklin M. Ritchie

Link - Posted by David on June 16, 2023 @ 6:00 am in

THIS week we have a story by Franklin M. Ritchie. Ritchie only wrote aviation yarns and his entire output—roughly three dozen stories—was between 1927 and 1930, but Ritchie was not your typical pulp author.

After reading “Crumpled Buzzards” I tried to find out a little about Ritchie to include in this post. I thought he had been covered in a biographical piece in Air Trails or Sky Birds, but couldn’t find anything. So I turned to the internet.

In putting in the name some great stuff comes up—letters from when he was a cadet to teachers back at Rutgers; a long letter to the folks back at Central New Jersey Home News where he was reporter before the war; he married fellow Erasmus High grad Elizabeth Farrish before enlisting; and this brief biographical piece from the Perth Amboy Evening News (September 23, 1922)—

All this good stuff was tied to this Lawyer fellow from New Brunswick. He seems to have an incredibly full life, when would he have time write pulp stories? But then I found a letter from Ritchie buried in the April 1929 issue of Sky Birds that explains it all:

Ritchie retired from all that in ‘58, moved out west and become a pastor at a Presbyterian church in Lakewood, California. He passed away at 84 in 1978.

With all that in mind, from the July 1929 number of Sky Birds, it’s Franklin M. Ritchie’s “Crumpled Buzzards!”

Lanky Jeff Dayton, a war bird, saw nothin’ to get het up about in this man’s war, but when he did, he saw red—red streaks of flame jetting from angry guns.

“Flyers of Fortune” by Ben Conlon

Link - Posted by David on February 18, 2022 @ 6:00 am in

THIS week we have a exciting air adventure from the pen of Ben Conlon. Conlon was quite the prolific author contributing stories in many genres and under a number of pseudonyms. He’s maybe best remembered for his many exciting Pete Rice western tales. He wrote all the full-length Pete Rice stories under the name Austin Gridley. Others used the pen name for the shorter Pete Rice stories in Wild West Weekly.

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 July 1929 Air Trails, it’s Ben Conlon’s “Flyers of Fortune!”

Whispering death wings spread above a tropic sea—as flyers face destruction for the lure of sunken gold!

“The Tunnel of Death” by Harold F. Cruickshank

Link - Posted by David on February 5, 2021 @ 6:00 am in

WE’RE celebrating the works of Canada’s very own Harold F. Cruickshank this month. Mr. Cruickshank launched his career when he was asked to write about his war comrades in Belgium. He received a prize for the story and continued writing in his spare time.

In 1923 he sold his first major piece to Western Home Monthly, Chatelaine’s forerunner, and a demand quickly grew for his stories. When he first started off, the demand was for war stories so Cruickshank wrote stories inspired by his time in the 63rd Battalion of the Canadian Expeditionary Forces and soon had stories running in all the big war themed pulps of the day—War Stories, Under Fire Magazine, Canadian War Stories, War Novels, Soldier Stories, and the magazine our featured story ran in—Battle Stories!

The company commander, Captain Coyne, had been found lying in a pool of his own blood—foully murdered. Coyne had been more than a good pal to Maguire. There was a bond between them which had been cemented during years of service on the Montreal Police Force and almost three years of action together in France. Now Coyne was gone. The skipper had been shot from behind and not by a German! It was an inside job. But who? Coyne was the most popular officer in the battalion, with a heart which was always with his men. But if Maguire wanted answers, he’d have to venture into the tunnels snaking under No-Man’s-Land!

Murder and mystery stalk hand in hand in this amazing story of a dread sector at the front!

From the July 1929 issue of Battle Stories, it’s Harold F. Cruickshank’s “The Tunnel of Death!”

“Five Gobs” by C.M. Miller

Link - Posted by David on July 24, 2020 @ 6:00 am in

THIS week we have a story from the pen of C.M. Miller! Miller is known to Age of Aces readers as the author behind Chinese Brady, an old war horse who’s fought in most every scrap there’s been. This time it’s a little something different than our usual aviation tale. Miller gives the story of five sailors in a launch separated from their boat trying desperately to get back. Only trouble is, a German Uboat is using them to get their at the U.S.S. Leichester too! From the pages of the July 1929 issue of War Novels, it’s “Five Gobs!”

Five gobs stranded in a motor boat didn’t amount to a tinker’s damn when that periscope sneaked up. The U.S.S. Leichester turned seaward and ran like the devil—leaving those five to play with a Heinie sub.

“The Sunrise Pilot” by Frank Richardson Pierce

Link - Posted by David on May 22, 2020 @ 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.

This time around, it looks like Rusty’s half-brother, Bert Procter, has gotten himself into a bit of trouble—he’s being charged with fish piracy and air deputy Marshall Rusty who has to serve the arrest warrant! Bust Rusty knows Bert, and although he’s gotten in over his head on some bad deals, Rusty believes he’s turned his life around and is being framed—but can he prove it? From the pages of the July 1929 Air Trails, it’s Frank Richardson Pierce’s “The Sunrise Pilot!”

Gangster guns spit flame as “Rusty” Wade rides the air trails.

“Golden Wings” by Jackson Scholz

Link - Posted by David on April 3, 2020 @ 6:00 am in

THIS week we have a story from the prolific pen of Jackson Scholz. Scholz originally shot to prominence in the world of sports as a record holding sprinter, taking a gold medal in the 4×100m Relay at the Antwerp Olympics in 1920 and Gold in the 200m and Silver in the 100m at the Paris Olympics in 1924—the Olympics depicted in the movie Chariots of Fire (1981) in which Brad Davis portrayed Scholz. Scholz even appeared in an American Express commercial with Ben Cross at the time.

Knowing you can’t run forever, Scholz started writing stories and submitting them to the magazines. He drew upon his own experiences, which is probably why most of his pulp stories are sports stories, but he did find time to pen some detective stories, a few westerns, and a couple dozen aviation tales—including four for Air Trails with Jiggs Neely. Neely is a young Pensacola graduate just as Scholz himself had been. In “Golden Wings,” Jiggs Neely tries to play it cool and keep in line after being told his actions could jeopardize his chances of earning his wings in the coming week. From the pages of the July 1929 Air Trails, it’s Jackson Scholz’ “Golden Wings!”

A high-speed story of naval aviation by a pilot-writer who won his wings at Pensacola.


And as a bonus, here’s an article from The Lincoln Sunday Star about how Jackson Scholz keeps busy between running and writing!


Writing and Running Keep Jackson Scholz Busy

The Lincoln Sunday Star, Lincoln, NB • 3 July 1927

Jackson V. Scholz, Olympic sprint champion of ’24, who is running for the New York A.C. in Lincoln this week end, is a writer of sports stories. Mr. Scholz published a book of track stories early in the spring and is a frequent contributor to sports magazines.

He likes to dance—two or three dances with good dancers—and stop.

He’s devoted to golf, and would play ail the time If he had a portable course.

He doesn’t care for night clubs.

He enjoys reading—a lot. He won a cup in tennis one bright day.

He’s a modest soul, and given to beating himself lightly. He’s unspoiled by many newspaper columns of laudatory acclaim.

He’s “keen” about bus riding-on top of a Fifth avenue bus, from Washington arch out to the drive. He likes to be with people, to watch them, to study them psychologically, but he does not claim to be a student of or to comprehend human nature.

He’s stimulated by an intelligent conversationalist—one whose mind, as he says, is sharper than his, and can turn his “inside out.”

He’s traveled everywhere—the Orient, Asia, the continent, and any number of “see America first” tours, but he’s not a collector. If he brings anything back to his apartment near Riverside drive, it’s different from anything else that has been in that apartment.

Scholz Not Blatant.

You can see him. A normal sort of young man. Jackson Scholz, with a college degree and nice blue eyes and dark gray spring suit with just the right cut. Not especially tall, very quiet, walking softly, not at all the blatant athletic type of young man who adorns the posters.

Yet Jackson Scholz has the fastest legs In the world, legs as famous as “we,” and that have made his name known round the world for their performances on half its continents.

He’s Olympic champion in the 200 metres, having run this event in the Paris Olympics in 21 6-10 seconds in 1924. the only American to come through with a sprint championship In those Olympics. He has been national A.A.U. champion in the sprint, and formerly was holder of the sprint championship—for the century and the 220 yard dash—in the Missouri valley conference for three years.

The winged-foot sprinter, here for the A.A.U. meet, was developed by Coach H.F. Schulte in his University of Missouri days, of which university Jackson Scholz is a graduate. He thinks a lot of his former coach, and gives much of the credit for his success to his training. Jackson Scholz knew in his high school days that many were destined to gaze at his fleeting heela, but it was Coach Schulte who developed him and taught him the fine points of the running game.

Writing Sport Stories

Jackson Scholz is one of sparkling names in Lincoln this weekend, but he hasn’t earned all the sparkles with his feet. Some are due to his mind, and his fingers.

When he isn’t running, he’s writing. Writing with a purpose.

The first story he wrote, he sold, which was happy news for him and sad for those ambitious souls who send their manuscripts on a world tour in hope of a sale. Since that day, he’s been a regular contributor to sport story magazines.

When the legs refuse to speed longer, writing is to be his profession. Possibly a little coaching on the side, for he thinks he would like to pass on to the newcomers the knowledge he has gained in his years of sprinting, but most of the hours to be devoted to writing. Some sport stories, but largely fiction.

It’s not an ambition without foundation, because Jackson Scholz is the writing runner.

He has just published a book of short stories, “Split Seconds,” tales of the cinder track. The stories are told by an old coach, and it is Coach Schulte upon whom Mr. Scholz has modeled his coach, who solves the manv problems of his young athletes. Grantland Rice, sport feature writer for the New York Herald-Tribune. wrote the introduction

Keeps Detailed Diary.

On his trips hither and yon. Mr. Scholz keeps a detailed diary. It has some 50.000 words, sans notes, at the moment, and some day it is probable it will appear for public perusal. He has just sold a 30,000 word autobiography.

Jackson V. Scholz isn’t a writer because he hasn’t a knowledge of other jobs.

The high boots and the broad hat of the landed squire appealed to him, and for three years he perused agricultural lore in college. A couple of years of milking cows and cultivating corn convinced him of the error of his thoughts.

During the late unpleasantness, he was a pilot in the navy flying corps, that occupied him in 1918 and 1919. He returned to graduate in journalism at Missouri.

Followed the 1920 Olympics, when he was a member of the winning relay team at Antwerp, and on an exhibition tour of the Scandinavian countries.

Real estate in Detroit intrigued him for a time, but for a brief time. With dreams of becoming a merchant prince he attached himself to a hosiery concern in New York City. Fifteen or twenty dollars every Saturday night does not make affluent living in the metropolis.

Became Newspaperman.

His journalism certificate came to hand and he was with the United Press, a newspaper wire service, for a year and one-half, most of the time in New York. Editing wires—making 2,500 words into twenty-five lines—lost its thrill after a time and Mr. Scholz returned to more creative lines of endeavor.

During his U.P. days, he wrote and sold his story, the first one. That aided and abetted his later decision.

In the fall of ‘23. he decided he wanted to make the Olympics at Paris, and he trained for eight months. In the final tryouts. be made a new world’s record for the 200 metres, a record that still stands. He went to Paris, winning honors of which the world knows.

While competing in the Irish Olympics at Dublin, he received an invitation from Japan for a series of meets. Three Americana and one Finn toured Japan for two and one-half months. Competing races, which, upon insistence, Mr. Scholz admits he won all of the dozen, and speeches, many speeches, filled the days.

Traveled With Hahn.

In 1925, Jackson Scholz and Lloyd Hahn, Nebraska’s fleet footed boy, were in New Zealand. “Fifteen meets and twice that many speeches,” Mr. Scholz characterizes the seventy-five days.

Nor are all his records sprint records.

He was the oldest runner in the last Olympics. He is the oldest runner actively participating in sprint circles today. Yet, he only won his first gold medal in the eighty-five pound championship of southern California in 1911, so yet thirty or forty years before he loses his speed and spryness.

If this man, whose record shows that he has outsprinted Charley Paddock in seven out of ten races in which they have been matched makes the Olympic team in 1927, he will be the first sprinter to make the trip three times. Charles Paddock and Loren Murchison are also entering the tryouts for the 1928 Olympics in Amsterdam, and if all three enter it will be the first trio to make the three contests.

In August, Mr. Schole sails for Germany to enter a meet there. The first one will be held September 4.

But the end will come, of course Mr. Scholz knows it.

“Of course, some day some youngster is going to get to the tape first. I know it. It’s inevitable.

“If I had it all to do over again, I’d do just as I’ve done. I wouldn’t have missed the fun and the competition for a couple of life times.”

Children’s Applause Pleasing.

“The sincere adulation of the children means as much as anything. The cries of the crowd, the back slapping, and hand wringing of people is pleasant, we iiKe it, but there’s something fine in this worship of the children.

“I like to’ think that possibly we mean something real to them, that we are passing on some worthwhile spirit to these youngsters.”

The holder of the 200 metres record has his sense of humor. He has seen funny moments in his dashing about the world.

It was at Histon, near Cambridge, and Jackson Scholz and Cyril Coatee, a Canadian sprinter, shared honors that day with an English country fair. The whistles and the bells and the shrill music of the carnival rent the air, and the two sprinters did their best as athletes of honor on a grassy track that tipped perilously down hill.

Throngs Left for Tea.

In the midst of the meet, the throngs disappeared. The noise stopped. The two looked dismayed as they trotted back up the track to peer about.

It was tea time. That was all, but suffient.

The two sprinters were taken into the midst of the crowds who had gathered in the gardens of this estate of some of England’s nobility, where the joint entertainment was being held.

“Can you see us.” exclaimed Mr. Scholz.

“The two of us-in our sweat suits, hair on end, faces partially lost under England’s dust-in the center of these chiffoned ladies and men dressed for tea-and Englishmen are most meticulous in their dress-balancing our tea cups on our knee. I shall never forget it.

“When the hour was over, we went back to the track, and the meet continued.”

Mr. Scholz is also the holder of the mid-Atlantic championship.

“As tar as I know no one else has ever aspired to it.”

Raced on Berengaria.

It was on the Berengaria returning to America that some persons arranged an entertainment. Mr Scholz gained the championship of the 70-yard dash, and still holds it.

Of all those with whom he has competed. Mr. Scholz enjoys the English most.

“The English are the finest sports,” he declares. “They are better winners, and better losers, and they play the game for itself.”

Mr. Scholz knows of no reason, why athletes should not enter professional circles. He does not believe that sprinting will ever be a professional sport, but he does believe in the policy of those who give up their amateur standing.

“I know of no reason why a person should not capitalize his natural talent, in this case his athletic ability, as same as would a person with a voice or the ability to play the violin. I believe they should a11 be considered from the same viewpoint.”

“Enemy Air” by Ralph Oppenheim

Link - Posted by David on March 18, 2016 @ 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! Kirby and the boys stumble upon a German spy ring and find themselves in one of their most dangerous missions yet that takes them all the way to a face to face meeting with Kaiser Wilhelm himself! You don’t want to miss it—it’s a true group effort as Travis gets to shine in this tale from the pages of the July 1929 issue of War Birds—when the boys find themselves in”Enemy Air!”

Espionage! That sinister, silent net of war that caught men ruthlessly in its grip and crushed them. Now, in the innocent shape of a Fokker, it challenged insolently to those three sky warriors—the Three Mosquitoes. A story with a most thrilling and startling climax.

“Sky Lines” by Raoul Whitfield

Link - Posted by David on July 24, 2015 @ 6:00 am in

Raoul Falconia Whitfield (1896-1945) is probably best remembered for his hardboiled crime fiction published in Black Mask such as the Jo Gar stories about a Filipino detective in an inter-war Manila. But Whitfield also wrote fiction for titles like Adventure, Blue Book, Breezy Stories, Everybody’s Magazine, as well as Battle Stories, War Stories, Boy’s Life and Air Trails. Frequently his stories in Air Trails featured “Buck” Kent, an adventurous pilot for hire. The stories, although more in the juvenile fiction vein, do feature some elements of his harder prose.

The July 1929 issue of Air Trails featured two pieces by Whitfield. There was the monthly dose of the adventures of “Buck” Kent and in the back of the issue was a cheifly autobiographical piece from his time as an aviator in the first World War. The autobiographical article is presented below; while the “Buck” Kent story, “Sky Lines” can be downloaded at the bottom of the post.


Sky Seconds That Count

by Raoul Whitfield • Air Trails • July 1929 (vol.2 no.4)

Mr. Whitfield, famous pilot-writer, author of the “Buck” Kent stories, tells about some of his own exciting moments in the air.

THIS fellow Whitfield has had some sky seconds, that have counted—even if he has to interview himself in order to admit it. We have to go back a few years to the days when army pilots didn’t pack ‘chutes; when stabilizers and inertia starters were things to talk about and say: “Well, maybe. Ten years from now—maybe.”

We have to go back to the days when a lot of good chaps were getting into tail-spins and not getting out of them. Back to war days.

There was the time a De Haviland’s Liberty conked out, over the Gironde River in France. That wasn’t so good, even though Lieutenant Whitfield did stretch the ship’s glide and reach a sandy strip along the stream’s edge. There was the time a Nieuport got her nose down and went into a tight spin five hundred feet off the ground, near Issoudoun, France.

That wasn’t so good, even though she whipped out of it a hundred feet above the earth. And there was still another time when a gray wall of fog swept northward across Colombey-la-Belle, and sent the lieutenant down for a nose-over on a soggy stretch too close to the front for comfort. And there were the seconds when a J.N. 4’s wings scraped those of another Jenny—at Kelly Field, Texas.

But the sky seconds that counted most slipped by at St. Jean de Monts, on the Bay of Biscay, France. This fellow Whitfield was flying a dep-control S.A.E. She was a terrible crate, and he was testing her out for target towing.

In the rear cockpit of this two-place ship was a noncom who had never tossed out a wrapped target sleeve before. The lieutenant was flying over the beach, headed into the wind.

He got the ship’s nose up and nodded his head. The noncom stood up and the prop wash battered him off balance. Instead of tossing the packed silk out, he held it momentarily.

Whitfield shoved the wheel forward and the nose dropped. A down current dropped it a bit more. The noncom recovered his balance—and let the packed target sleeve go.

The tail assembly slanted up—and the silk lodged between the rudder and elevator fins. The wind pressure jambed it there, tight—very tight. The plane was going down with power on, her dive angle around thirty degrees. And the more Lieutenant Whitfield tugged on that wheel—the worse the silk sleeve jamb became!

Seconds were counting, and counting big!

THE lieutenant swore at the noncom, howled at him to jerk the pack loose. The lieutenant cut the throttle speed, and stared down at the white beach. The ship had less than two thousand feet, and her dive angle was just right for a sweet crash.

A crash in this particular plane meant that the pilot would rate the engine in his lap, and plenty of fire to top off. Whitfield was pretty scared.

But he worked the wheel forward and backward, perhaps an inch. That would have meant something in a Nieuport or a Sop. But this crate didn’t notice the movement. And the target sleeve stuck like Bishop on a Boche’s tail.

The noncom was pulling at the rope coil—methods were crude in those days—but it was no go. Five hundred feet above the sand, Lieutenant Whitfield cut the ignition switch and thought of a girl back in the States. (He married the other one later).

He was still tugging at the wheel control, a hundred feet off the sand. But the dive angle was still thirty degrees or better. It looked like he’d eaten his last Bay of Biscay lobster and partaken of his last bottle of Mumms’ champagne. Then the wheel pulled back an inch—two inches—three inches! That helped.

There was still plenty of crash. The undergear went first, then a wing ripped along and buckled. The plane nosed over and the prop splintered. The pilot and the sergeant crawled out of the wreckage. The ship didn’t burn. She sizzled, but she didn’t fry.

The silk sleeve was still lodged between the rudder and elevator fins, partially opened. As the lieutenant writes, he yawns and looks at a splinter of that ship’s prop, hanging on the wall.

A lot of seconds pass by in eleven years. But he didn’t yawn then—and every second counted when he tugged at that diving crate’s wheel.



AND now down to New Orleans where “Buck” Kent has been earning his keep with a little sky writting, and some favors on the side in Raoul Whitfield’s “Sky Lines.”

“Buck” Kent matches his airman’s wits with the snarling bullets of bandit guns.