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“The Dragon’s Breath” by O.B. Myers

Link - Posted by David on July 22, 2022 @ 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. Sent down behind enemy lines, Pete Hennabury runs into an Allied spy and is entrusted with important information. Important information that ends up right back in the hands of the Germans. Desperate to get the information to the Allies, Pete plays a dangerous game, betting everything on his best mate’s dragon breath! From the March 1933 number of War Birds, it’s O.B. Myer’s “The Dragon’s Breath”

With one foot on the rail of death, Pete mixed a crash cocktail, chilled it with the ice of his own nerve and served it in a washed-out cylinder of a Fokker mercedes!

Ralph Oppenheim—Eyewitness to History

Link - Posted by David on March 8, 2022 @ 6:00 am in

WHEN the first issue of War Birds hit the stands in February 1928, it not only contained an exciting tale of Ralph Oppenheim’s inseparable trio The Three Mosquitoes, but it also had a rare factual piece by Mr. Oppenheim. Ralph and his younger brother Garrett had taken a trip to Europe the previous year and just happened to be there at the right time to be able to get to Paris and be there at Le Bourget Field on the 21st of May when Charles Lindbergh successfully ended his trans-Atlantic flight!

The editor of WAR BIRDS considers it an outstanding honor to be able to give you this little sketch. Mr. Oppenheim, besides being the most brilliant flying story writer in America, had the priceless privilege of being an eyewitness of one of the most historic moments of modern times—when the great Lindbergh landed the “Spirit of St. Louis” on Le Bourget Field that memorable night in Paris.


Lindbergh uses the lights of Paris to guide him around the Eiffel Tower to Le Bourget Field. (image © lookandlearn.com)

Author’s Note—The following is taken, for the most part, from notes written at Le Bourget Field before and after Lindbergh’s arrival. We (“we” in this case meaning my brother and myself) had come early in the afternoon and had thus secured a wonderful position, on the flat roof of a cafe which was right at the edge of the big field. After a long windy, raining afternoon, during which the crowd grew to a size of about 100,000, the hour when the American should arrive began to draw closer.

 

 

When “Lindy” Dropped on Paris

MAY 21st, 1927. 9 to 9:20 P.M. What a mob of people! The roof here is packed behind us, and we are being pushed so hard against our concrete wall (which comes up to our necks) what we’re afraid that either the wall will give or we’ll be crushed into a “shapeless mass.” At our right, in the corner, are three newsreel men, getting movie cameras set. Somewhere in back a Frog newsboy is croaking shrilly: “L’Americain Volant! L’Americain Volant!” A former senator from Missouri says that means that Lindbergh is now over the English Channel. . . . Down below, along the edge of the field, is the real mob—the biggest crowd I’ve ever seen. They are kept from the field itself by a big, strong iron fence. Out on the field, in front of this fence, about two hundred gendarmes are forming a long string to check the crowd if it should attempt to get over that fence. There are no more planes landing or taking off on the field now. The big air-liners which have been coming and going regularly all afternoon, discharging slightly dismal looking passengers and taking on happy, eager ones, are no longer to be seen. They have cleared the field. They have floodlights to illuminate the ground, but they only turn them on every now and then. Economical, these French. Also there are parachute flares. These are shot up like sky-rockets, and the blazing phosphorous comes floating down on a little parachute. Only trouble is these frogs have rotten aim. Some of those damn flares are falling right into the crowd. Each time it happens there’s an excited, panicky shriek. And the idea that one of those flares might fall on our roof is enough to keep us in good suspense. But we don’t need anything to keep us in suspense now. As the moment when the brave American should arrive draws closer and closer, the excitement rises to the highest pitch. Everybody is yelling, shouting, and it seems that everybody has suddenly become a great authority on the subject of aviation. Gosh, these French certainly know how to get excited! There goes that newsboy again: “L’Americain Volant! L’Americain Volant!” And a school-ma’m from Iowa says that means the poor boy’s been lost at sea.

9:20 to 9:30—They are cheering! It seems they hear a plane overhead. We listen. Does sound like a drone up there. More flares—and more suspense. They have the floodlights on again. The cheers are increasing. The gendarmes on the field look worried as the iron fence begins to shake ominously under the pressure of the surging mob behind it.

9:30 to 10:15—Look! Look! Voila! Nom de nom! Everyone is screaming at the top of his or her lungs. We can all hear the drone now. Off to the left it is. We stare in an effort to pierce through the murk. Nothing yet, nothing yet. Then—

The earth shakes with a mighty reverberating cheer. In the darkness up there appears a floating, whitish shape. It is coming down, gliding for the field! It is Lindbergh! God Almighty!

Now we can clearly distinguish the graceful silver monoplane. The crowd is going crazy. The plane is landing. The great pilot, cool and collected, carefully keeps away from all signs of the crowd. He brings his ship down way across the field, just opposite our roof. It is a wonderful and an astonishingly quick landing—the best we’ve seen on this field. And there was something incongruous about the way that plane, having just come way from New York, simply dropped out of the sky and landed.

Before the Spirit of St. Louis rolls to a stop hell breaks loose at Le Bourget. With a mighty shove, the people surge right through that iron fence like a tremendous tidal wave. The gendarmes? Drowned, swallowed in that flood. It is a sight indeed, that mob rushing out towards the plane. It makes you feel insignificant to see all those people. All over flashlights are popping, cameras clicking, and men and women shouting like mad. The cameramen tackle the mob like football players in their efforts to get to the plane. The people on our roof are—well, they’re raising the roof. Some Frog is using my back as a step-ladder, and another is trying to make a foot-stool out of my neck. Tables collapse as people try to stand on them to get a look. One or two crazy fools actually jump off the roof, onto the shed below. A fifteen foot drop! The plane out there is surrounded now. And it seems almost that the mob is lifting that big monoplane on its shoulders and carrying it around. They’re bringing the great Lindbergh in. Cheers! “Vive l’Americain! Vive Londberje (as the Frogs pronounced it)!” Where is he? We think we catch a glimpse of him in the midst of a little circle, around which the crowd is thickest. How they bring him in is a mystery, but they get him to the building right next to ours, and hold the crowd out. The crowd storms outside, yelling in a mighty chorus: “Let us see! Let us see!” From our roof we can see the lighted, curtained window of the room where they have him. We see lots of people in there, and often we think we get glimpses of the American—but we will never know if we really did, though we saw him twice on future occasions (both in Paris and on the day of his arrival in New York).

Now the French windows are opened over in that building, and a man steps out on the balcony. It is the American ambassador. He makes a speech, which nobody hears. But nobody has to hear, because all realize that an epoch-making event has just occurred, and that Charles A. Lindbergh, later to be known as “Plucky Lindy” and “The Lone Eagle” and “Slim,” has succeeded in making the first non-stop flight from New York to Paris.

For a sense of the scene at the time you can check out some newsreels from the whole journey—AP (British Pathé)—or just the day—British Pathé and Periscope Film. And the USA Today actually has a decent article with some good photos from the 90th anniversary of the historic flight.

“Challenge of the Air” by Ralph Oppenheim

Link - Posted by David on March 4, 2022 @ 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 Mr. Oppenheim’s pre-pulp writings. 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 the premiere issue of War Birds from March 1928! Kirby returns to action after having been shot down and spending 5 weeks in a hospital recuperating. That German had taken the starch out of him, had shattered his morale. In the past he had had planes shot from under him, had escaped perhaps even more certain deaths than this, but always he had come through the victor, had triumphed in the final showdown. Never before had he been beaten, battered to a pulp like this. The German had knocked him down, and he couldn’t get up. It had all given him the awful feeling that his reign as an unbeatable ace was over, that he must relinquish the crown. That was why he looked older now; he felt older, the old champion bowing to the new. It was indeed, almost a sense of going stale—and to an ace nothing could be worse. Can Kirby overcome his “Challenge of the Air!”

Nothing more terrible can happen to a great ace than to realize suddenly that he is suffering from shock—that the old nerve won’t answer the call. Kirby was in this condition when the Fokker came over, gained valuable information—and was flying back triumphantly. Like a man half mad, he cursed himself fought with himself. The next time they came over—

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

From the Scrapbooks: Letter Postcards

Link - Posted by David on December 29, 2021 @ 6:00 am in

THIS Holiday Season we’re delving into a pair of scrapbooks that were created in the late 20’s and early 30’s by an industrious youth, Robert A. O’Neil, with a keen interest in all things aviation. The books contain clippings, photos and articles from various aviation pulps as well as other magazines. What has been assembled is a treasure trove of information on planes and aces of WWI.

Like many in the late 20’s and early 30’s, Robert O’Neil was fascinated with aviation and as such, a large part of both volumes of his scrapbooks is taken up with a cataloging of the many different types of planes. But amongst all the planes and air race flyers and info on Aces are some surprising items.

Turning the page, we find two acknowledgments that had been sent out for having written a letter in to the pulps!

The first, from Battle Aces, is an actual postcard mailed on March 28th 1931 at 7:30pm from the Grand Central Annex branch of the post office. It pictures Sarge and a happy plane dancing about and reads:

“SAY, YOU! Thanks for the swell letter! Yours for happy landing,
—Editor Battle Aces”

but upon it, Sarge has written Robert a handwritten note that reads:

“Never mind that ride with my blonde Jane, Bob.
She goes sky bugging with yours truly only!
Gene”

The second is from War Birds magazine. Unlike the Battle Aces card, this is not a postcard, just a slip of paper and was most likely sent in an envelope. It pictures that “same hard boiled, son-o’a gun, Sarge” reading letters while being flown about and says simply: “Thanks for your Letter!”

Yes, it’s the same Sarge, well…. Depending when the card was sent. Eugene A. Clancy was the editor of War Birds magazine from 1928 to whenever he left in 1930 to take over duties at Battle Aces. The letters column over there was full of all the same things—except the Prince of Zanzibar and a big Swede are his cohorts in his escapades. Aside from that, he’s still going down to Mike’s Place and the Blonde Jane is still helping out. His replacement carried on as Sarge, but it’s obvious it’s not the same Sarge.

 

“Squadron of the Snows” by Allan R. Bosworth

Link - Posted by David on January 22, 2021 @ 6:00 am in

THIS week we have a story from the pen of the Navy’s own Allan R. Bosworth. This time Bosworth gives us a tale of war in the Alps! Bart Mason, American pilot of Native-American desert is attached to the British squadron posted at the Italian army post west of Treviso. The sector has been terrorized by Paul Katz and his Squadron of the Snows. The problem is, Katz’ Staffel flies all-white planes which seem invisible against the snowy backdrop of the Alps—that is until Bart dons some warpaint!

Somewhere in the ice-covered heights of the Alps that deadly Snow Squadron had its lair— and none could challenge their invisible menace, until a yelling, fighting Indian had a yen to paint the town red.

From the pages of the April 1932 issue of War Birds, it “Squadron of the Snows!”

“Akbar the Black” by O.B. Myers

Link - Posted by David on January 8, 2021 @ 6:00 am in

THIS week, he 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. He wrote hundreds of stories for the pulps—primarily in the detective and air war pulps. We’ve collected a few of his best he had in Dare-Devil Aces as The Black Sheep of Belogue: The Best of O.B. Myers.

Memo, to all intelligence operatives, and to all Air Squadron Commanders:

    Wanted, for desertion, as a renegade and spy, the following: Full name, Akbar Swaalii Ajjaszid, known as Akbar or Akbar the Black (le Noir). Half-breed African, mixed negroid and Arab parentage; skin dark brown in color. Born in French Somaliland, about 1890; left Jibuti to come to Paris in 1915 as the body-servant of a major of Spaliis. Left his master after arrival, to join a gang of apaches. Involved in stabbing affray in Cafe Fouleau in August, 1915. Enlisted, French Foreign Legion, September of same year. Assigned by request to flying service; trained Pau, Avord; sent to Front in January, 1916, with 5th Escadrille de Chasse (Pursuit). In three months of action gained two accredited victories. Disappeared April 19th; believed to have deserted to the enemy, and to be at the present lime actively engaged in their flying forces. Report of his capture, or evidence of his death, will please be sent to this office at once.

They called him Akbar the Black. His cannibal ship spewed hate through black skies—but even outlaw wings must crack when the ghost of the past calls “Time!”

“The Noël Patrol” by Edgar L. Cooper

Link - Posted by David on December 23, 2020 @ 6:00 am in

THE Stockings are hanging from the mantle with care, in hopes that St. Nicholas soon will be there. But we still have time for one more story before the big day—and this time it’s an actual Christmas themed story by Edgar L. Cooper.

All Lt. Duke Rittenhouse wanted for Christmas was that last victory that would make him an Ace. And he was determined to get it even if he had to go out in a raging snow storm on Christmas Eve to do so, but it was the gift Baron Rupprecht von Hentzau—the ‘Werewolf of Austria,’ gave him that night, that he’d remember forever.

So pull up a chair and light a fire, get a good drink and enjoy Edgar L. Cooper’s “The Noël Patrol” from the December 1931 War Birds!

Christmas Eve—and the dogs of war were leashed. But Ace-Up remembered his vow of a fifth by Christmas, and the fangs of the Austrian Werewolf were still unpulled.

“Specter Strafe” by O.B. Myers

Link - Posted by David on December 21, 2020 @ 6:00 am in

IT’S Christmas week! And what better way to start it off than with a bit of a ghost story. Our eighth tale of Christmas is O.B. Myer’s “Specter Strafe!” Myers was a pilot himself, flying with the 147th Aero Squadron and carrying two credited victories and awarded the Distinguished Service Cross.

Stack Sherman accidentally shoots down an Allied plane, but his C.O. tells him not to worry about it until he’s asked to testify. Easier said than done! Although Sherman tries to forget about it and move on, his conscience won’t allow it.

And then the pilot’s brother shows up at the 44th—and he’s assigned to Sherman’s flight! From the December 1931 War Birds, it’s O.B. Myer’s “Specter Strafe!”

Riddled with Vickers lead, that Yank ship hurtled down to oblivion—and only Stack Sherman and the specter that haunted him knew on whose gun trips rested the murder’s guilt!

For all his many published stories, O.B. Myer’s didn’t really have any series characters. The few recurring characters he did have in the pages of Dare-Devil Aces, we’ve collected into a book we like to call “The Black Sheep of Belogue: The Best of O.B. Myers” which collects the two Dynamite Pike and his band of outlaw Aces stories and the handful of Clipper Stark vs the Mongol Ace tales. If you enjoyed this story, you’ll love these stories!

“Death’s Double” by Frederick C. Painton

Link - Posted by David on December 18, 2020 @ 6:00 am in

SIX down, and six to go! For the seventh story from the Christmas 1931 issues of the Air pulps we have a story from the pen of a prolific pulp author and venerated newspaper man—Frederick C. Painton. Paint known to our readers for his gritty Squadron of the Dead.

The War Department sends Jerry Gallens to the 92nd Pursuit Squadron with a film crew in tow to make a movie! Gallens is the American flapper’s big crush, the swoon of old maids, the envy of every young American man, the sweetheart of the United States. He is America’s outstanding musical-comedy star, a Broadway matinee idol. He is a great movie actor, the only one outside of Charley Chaplin who’s had his pictures translated into the Chinese. But he also longs to be a real Ace like he’s portraying on screen! From the December 1931 issue of War Birds—it’s Frederick C. Painton’s “Death’s Double!”

Into the hard skies of war-aged pilots came a movie idol under special orders. They hated his guts and called him yellow, until that red day when hell broke loose over their heads—and a man was born.

Painton has once again named the squadron adjunct something along the lines of Willie-the-Ink. This time it’s Johnny-the-Ink, but it’s the same character. And not too dissimilar from Dugger Banks, the squadron leader in Painton’s “Aces Fly High” (Sky Fighters, November 1933), he’s named the squadron leader of the 92nd Pursuit “Digger” Banks!

“Ask No Questions” by Frederick C. Davis

Link - Posted by David on December 14, 2020 @ 6:00 am in

OUR fifth tale from the Christmas 1931 issues of the Air pulps is 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, Air Stories and Wings.

Lieutenant William Ballentine—a big name for such a small pilot. He looked like a ten-year-old dressed up in his big brother’s flying togs, he was so small. As a matter of fact, he was just a half-portion of pilot. But what he lacked in size he seemed to make up in joie de vivre. But when the C.O. told him to follow orders and “Ask No Questions”—unfortunately, he did just that.

Too much courage was Half-Pint’s burden—then came the day when he softened the C.O.’s anger and showed that even feathers have wartime uses.

The Aces of Christmas 1931

Link - Posted by David on November 30, 2020 @ 6:00 am in

WHILE browsing through eBay a couple months ago, I came upon these two snapshots from a family’s Christmas in Memphis 1931. What caught my eye was the little boy all dressed up as a WWI ace with leather jacket, aviator’s cap with goggles, and some sort of tall leather boots(?)! It got me thinking about what stories that boy could have been reading that rather mild, snowless December in Memphis.

So this month we’ll be featuring stories published in the December 1931 issues of Aces, Sky Birds, War Aces and War Birds, by some of our favorite authors—Arch Whitehouse, O.B. Myers, Frederick C. Painton, Frederick C. Davis, Donald E. Keyhoe, and George Bruce—as well as a couple new or seldom seen authors to our site—Elliot W. Chess, Edgar L. Cooper, and Robert Sidney Bowen.

Looking at that impressive list, you may be wondering where a few of our most often posted authors are. Authors like Ralph Oppenheim, Harold F. Cruickshank, Lester Dent and Joe Archibald. That’s a bit of good news/bad news. The good news, we’ve already posted the stories Ralph Oppenheim (“Lazy Wings”) and Lester Dent (“Bat Trap”) had in the December 1931 War Aces; the bad, I don’t have the December 1931 issues of Wings featuring George Bruce, F.E. Rechnitzer and Edwin C. Parsons or Flying Aces with Keyhoe, Archibald, George Fielding Eliot, Alexis Rossoff, and William E. Poindexter. And as for Cruickshank—he didn’t have a story in any of the air pulps that month.

With that in mind—and since it’s Monday, let’s get the ball rolling with the covers of Christmas 1931!


ACES by Redolph Belarski


BATTLE ACES by Frederick Blakeslee


FLYING ACES by Paul J. Bissell


SKY BIRDS by Colcord Heurlin


WAR ACES by Eugene Frandzen


WAR BIRDS by Redolph Belarski


WINGS by Redolph Belarski

Come back on Wednesdays and Fridays this month for some of the great fiction from these issues!

“Famous Firsts” November 1933 by William E. Barrett

Link - Posted by David on November 25, 2020 @ 6:00 am in

THIS November we’re celebrating William E. Barrett’s Birthday. Before he became renown for such classics as The Left Hand of God and Lilies of The Field, Barrett honed his craft across the pages of the pulp magazines—and nowhere more so than in War Birds and it’s companion magazine War Aces where he contributed smashing novels and novelettes, True tales of the Aces of the Great War, encyclopedic articles on the great war planes as well as other factual features. Here at Age of Aces Books he’s best known for his nine Iron Ace stories which ran in Sky Birds in the mid ’30s!

Among those factual features was “Famous Firsts” which ran frequently in the pages of War Aces. “Famous Firsts” was an illustrated feature much along the lines of Barrett’s “Is That a Fact?” that was running in War Birds, only here the facts were all statements of firsts. And like “Is That a Fact?” in War Birds, this feature was also taken over by noted cartoonist Victor “Vic Vac” Vaccarezza in 1932.

The November 1933 installment, from the pages of War Birds, features President Taft, Parachute flares, the first fatal crash and Aileen Vollick—Canada’s first woman pilot!

“Famous Firsts” January 1932 by William E. Barrett

Link - Posted by David on November 11, 2020 @ 6:00 am in

THIS November we’re celebrating William E. Barrett’s Birthday. Before he became renown for such classics as The Left Hand of God and Lilies of The Field, Barrett honed his craft across the pages of the pulp magazines—and nowhere more so than in War Birds and it’s companion magazine War Aces where he contributed smashing novels and novelettes, True tales of the Aces of the Great War, encyclopedic articles on the great war planes as well as other factual features. Here at Age of Aces Books he’s best known for his nine Iron Ace stories which ran in Sky Birds in the mid ’30s!

Among those factual features was “Famous Firsts” which ran frequently in the pages of War Aces. “Famous Firsts” was an illustrated feature much along the lines of Barrett’s “Is That a Fact?” that was running in War Birds, only here the facts were all statements of firsts. And like “Is That a Fact?” in War Birds, this feature was also taken over by noted cartoonist Victor “Vic Vac” Vaccarezza in 1932.

The January 1932 installment, from the pages of War Birds, features Bert Hall, the first successful attempt to land an agent behind the lines, and the first biplane equipped with a Lewis gun!

“Challenge of the Cuckoos” by Alexis Rossoff

Link - Posted by David on October 23, 2020 @ 6:00 am in

THIS week we have a fun tale of the Cuckoo’s Nest from the prolific pen of Alexis Rossoff. The Cuckoo’s Nest stories ran in War Birds in 1930. The Cuckoo’s are an outfit a lot like Keyhoe’s Jailbird Flight—a group of hell cats who found themselves afoul of military rules who have been given another chance to die fighting rather than rot in a Blois cell.

With the Germans stepping up their patrols in the Vosges in hopes of stumbling upon the Cuckoo’s hidden nest, “Limey” Barrow stacked the deck and left his fate to Lady Luck when he wrangled the mission to try to stop new recruits from trying to find their way to the Cuckoo’s Nest and inadvertently lead Jerry pilots to their front door as well! From the June 1930 issue of War Birds it’s Alexis Rossoff’s “Code of the Cuckoos!”

Boche eyes pierced through the skies, and that band of forgotten buzzards huddled with the only fear they knew— discovery and then return to the rotten disgrace of Blois. But out of that strange group of outcasts came “Limey” Barrow ready to play that shivering game with death on the last hunch that his sweetheart. Lady Luck, would not turn him down. Another sensational yarn of those renegades of the air—the Cuckoos!

“Little Orphan Danny” by Allan R. Bosworth

Link - Posted by David on September 11, 2020 @ 6:00 am in

THIS week we have a story from the pen of the Navy’s own Allan R. Bosworth. Being a Navy man, Bosworth’s stories primarily dealt with the Navy. However, this week’s story from the pages of War Birds, Bosworth gives us something different—the Steenth Squadron has a German spy in their midst. Dizzy Donovan exists the help of a local orphan the squadron has taken a shine to to help ferret out the hidden Boche agent. But the pilots are the ones in for a surprise at Little Orphan Danny’s birthday Party! From the pages of the December 1932 it’s “Little Orphan Danny!”

Dizzy Donovan, premier poet of the air, took an orphan to raise. When the pilots of the Steenth tried to celebrate Little Danny’s birthday they learned about the war from him!

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