The Motor Boys on the Wing: or, Seeking the Airship Treasureñêà÷àòü êíèãó áåñïëàòíî
“Isn’t it Nixon?” asked Ned.
“You’re right – I believe it is.”
“Is he here now?” asked Bob.
“Well he was, but if I’m not mistaken I believe he and his partner – a Mr. Apple I think it is – ”
“I guess you mean Berry,” interposed Bob.
“You’re right, it is Berry. I am poor at remembering names. Nixon and Berry went out for a spin. They just got their machine together to-day.”
“I’m glad we didn’t take ours apart,” spoke up Ned. “We saved a lot of time.”
“Have you any entrants named Brown or Black?” went on Jerry, who was somewhat anxious for news of the two strange men.
“Hum! Brown and Black. Oh, yes, I remember now. They were here, with their machine, too, a big biplane named the Silver Star.”
“That’s it!” exclaimed Ned eagerly.
“But they left,” went on the secretary. “They refused to comply with the rules regarding the number of flights, and left in a huff. I don’t much care, as I didn’t like their appearance. But I’m glad you boys are here. You’ll be a sort of drawing-card, as you have quite a reputation in aviation circles.”
“Thanks!” said Jerry with a laugh, as the genial secretary withdrew.
“Well, we’ve got Noddy to reckon with, but not the others,” remarked Ned, as they proceeded to wash up for supper, over which Bob was already busy in the galley.
“Yes, and Noddy’s enough trouble at a time,” spoke Jerry.
Ned had lathered himself well and was about to indulge in the luxury of a splashing in the basin, when some shouts outside caused Jerry, who was getting rid of his coat and vest, to rush from the hangar.
“I’ll wager it’s the professor in trouble over his bugs again,” ventured the merchant’s son.
“No it isn’t, it’s a biplane coming down,” called back Jerry. “It’s Noddy Nixon, too! And say, he’s lost control of it! He almost turned turtle then!”
Bob and Ned rushed outside the tent. In the gathering dusk they looked up to where Jerry pointed and saw a big biplane coming down with a rush, while two frightened figures clung to the seats, one endeavoring to bring up the head planes and avoid smashing to earth.
“They’re in a bad way!” murmured Jerry. “Their engine must have stopped and they tried to volplane down. But their rudders won’t work and – ”
“They’re going to smash as sure as fate!” burst out Ned. “I guess it’s all up with Noddy Nixon and Bill Berry!”
WINNING A PRIZE
Indeed it did seem that nothing could save Noddy and Bill. With the speed of the wind, and like a bird with a broken wing, their aeroplane was shooting downward. The two could be seen, even in the gathering dusk, to be working desperately to throw up the head planes or the lifting rudder. If this could be done the biplane would shoot upward on a slant, and its swift downward flight would be checked.
“His rudder lines must be jammed,” murmured Jerry in a low voice.
There were expressions of horror from the crowd.
The aeroplane was now within a hundred feet of the ground.
Suddenly there was a flutter of white at the prow, a flash of a canvas plane, and the nose of the craft appeared to tilt upward.
“He’s done it!” cried Ned. “He’s got the rudder to work! Now he can save himself!”
“If it isn’t too late,” added Bob.
But Noddy proved himself to have some pluck, and he showed not a little knowledge of how to manage his machine. Quickly throwing up the forward plane, he sent his craft along on a slightly upward slant. This checked it almost like a brake, and, when he had considerably reduced the momentum, he shifted the rudder lines, and once more headed for the earth.
There was a cheer from the crowd, and our friends could not help joining in it, even though they had no love for Noddy or Bill.
“He’s all right now, if he keeps control of it,” spoke Jerry.
Whether Noddy did not keep control of it, or whether the experience through which he had just passed shook his nerves was not manifest, but as a matter of fact he came down to the ground on too short a slant, and without checking enough of his speed.
There was a splintering sound, a breaking of metal, and the bicycle wheels of the aeroplane collapsed under the sudden shock. Noddy and Bill were thrown out, but not hurt beyond a severe shaking up. Willing hands assisted them to rise.
“You had a lucky escape,” commented one man.
“I should say yes,” chimed in another. “I thought it was all up with you.”
“Oh, we’re tough; eh, Bill?” cried Noddy with a boastful laugh. “I knew we’d come out all right. The tilting rudder got jammed. But I guess our machine is badly smashed.”
“No, a new set of wheels and a couple of springs is all it needs,” decided one of the aeronauts after an inspection. “There are a lot of spare parts here. You can get fixed up in time for the race.”
“He’s got more pluck than I gave him credit for,” remarked Bob, as he and his chums went back to their quarters and proceeded to get supper.
There were busy times next day for all concerned in the meet. Officials were making the final arrangements for handling the crowds they expected; exhibitors and those who expected to take part in the flights and races were “tuning up” their motors, or making repairs or changes in their machines. Some of the earlier comers were taking short flights, and one daring Frenchman, in a tiny machine, was circling high in the air, trying for a record.
Our heroes found a few changes necessary to make to their craft, and they were so busy over them that they paid little attention to what was going on outside. In the afternoon Ned, who had gone to the secretary to secure some information concerning the time of certain races, reported that Noddy’s machine had been repaired and that the bully and Bill were going to make another flight.
“How’d he get another set of wheels so soon?” asked Jerry, pausing with a small bicycle wrench in his hand. He had been tightening some of the turnbuckles of the guy wires.
“Oh there was a set here that some one left or didn’t want and some extra tires,” replied the merchant’s son. “Say, you ought to see them. They’re almost as big as automobile wheels, with thick, heavy tires on them, and those raised, right-angle, anti-skid projections on the rubber. They make a track in the mud like a lot of chickens.”
“What made Noddy put on such heavy tires?” asked Bob.
“Guess he hadn’t any choice,” answered Ned. “He’s going to take part in the hundred mile race to-morrow, and he wants to be ready, I guess.”
“I hope we win that race,” remarked Jerry thoughtfully.
“Why there isn’t much money in it,” went on Ned. “There’s twenty-five hundred dollars for the machine that makes the best height record. I should think you’d care more about that. It’s only a thousand and the gold cup for the winner of the hundred mile race.”
“I know it, but it’s the cup I want for a trophy,” said Jerry. “We don’t really need the money, but I like the glory. Besides, going after a height record is rather monotonous, just circling about in a spiral. Of course it’s sensational for the crowd to watch, and that’s why the management offer a big money prize for it. But the best test of an aeroplane is in a long distance flight. I hope we win.”
Of course Ned and Bob did also, though there was a difference of opinion as to which race would confer the greater honor if won.
There were many machines in flight now, in preparation for the next day. There were a number of biplanes, including Noddy Nixon’s Winner, several monoplanes, one triplane, three dirigible balloons, and one machine something like that of our heroes, a combination balloon and aeroplane. But it was not as large nor as powerful as the Comet.
The air was filled with the snapping, crackling sounds of motors being tried, and the smell of gasolene was all over. There was a babel of tongues, French, German, Italian and Japanese, for one aviator of the latter nation was going to try for a prize.
Here one would see an aviator and his assistants mending a torn plane, or fixing a rudder. Over at the other side of the grounds one of the birdmen was testing the thrust of his machine’s propellers by means of a spring scale. Another was trying to discover a defect in his ignition system, and others were oiling, fixing or warming up their motors. Flags and banners fluttered from tents and hangars, officials were hurrying to and fro, and some excited and anxious aviators were seeking missing parts which had been shipped to them but which had not arrived.
“Lots doing,” commented Bob, as he and his chums got ready to go up in their machine.
“Plenty,” agreed Jerry.
“It’s almost like a circus,” was Ned’s opinion, “and we’re part of the show.”
“Well, get aboard and we’ll start,” counseled Jerry. “We’ll see if we can get up any speed.”
“That’s a great machine you’ve got there,” complimented the busy secretary as he hurried past. “Will you give some exhibitions flights after the regular events?”
“Perhaps,” promised Jerry.
Our heroes had no reason to complain of the manner in which their craft behaved. They went up to a good height and circled about in graceful curves. Then, having warmed up the motor, Jerry, who had been picked by his chums to guide the Comet in the race the next day, sent her around the ten mile course.
Faster and faster flew the big machine until even the tall steersman, exacting as he was, could not help admitting that he was satisfied.
“She’ll do,” he said, as he coasted toward the earth. “We’ll make the flight of our lives to-morrow, and – ”
“Win!” cried Ned.
“Exactly!” exclaimed Jerry.
Swiftly the time went by, until at last came the hour for the great hundred mile race. The immense grand stand was filled with an eager anxious throng, and thousands equally eager and anxious stood about the big field, well out of way of the air machines. The course of ten miles was marked by anchored balloons, painted white, which were easily visible across the wide valley where the meet took place.
Noddy Nixon had his machine out at the starting line. It had been patched up, and, as Ned had remarked the wheels seemed too big for it. In all there were seven starters besides the Comet, and contestants included the Winner, a triplane, an Antoinette, a Bleriot monoplane and Wright, Curtiss and Farman biplanes.
It was to be a “flying” start. That is the contestants would get in motion at the sound of a gun, would rise as best they could, and approach an imaginary line in the air, above the white balloon marking the beginning of the course. Then the race would be to the swiftest machine.
There was a last inspection of the engines and air craft, a hurried testing of the propellers, and then, in answer to a question from the secretary, the contestants said that they were ready.
Bang! went the pistol. The report was followed by a series of deafening explosions as the motors started. Our three heroes were among the first to get under way, and they quickly mounted to a good height. The others followed. All approached the first anchored balloon in a bunch and a moment later the race was on.
“Now for a long and steady grind,” said Bob, as he and Ned, oil cans in hand, went to the motor room. Jerry was in the steering tower.
“Look what’s coming!” cried Bob, pausing in the act of lubricating a bearing. “The Antoinette is going to pass us!”
“Let her,” answered Jerry easily. “He hasn’t enough gasolene to last out, I don’t believe, if she burns it up that way.”
“And here comes Noddy in the Winner,” added Ned.
“Don’t worry,” advised the tall lad. “The race has only begun.”
Noddy and Bill, in their craft shot up on even terms with our friends, and then, as though to show what he could do, Noddy dropped back again.
The big triplane was having difficulties, and it had not covered more than three-quarters of the way around the first circle of the course before it dropped out and went back to earth, engine troubles being responsible. The other machines remained in the race, however, and were about on even terms. Now one would be ahead, and then another. The monoplane took the lead after the first ten miles, and kept it for two rounds. Then the engine suddenly ceased working and the unlucky operator had to volplane to earth.
Meanwhile Jerry and his chums had gone steadily on. The tall lad had gradually increased the speed of the engine, as he found it working well, and now they were making about forty miles an hour. This would soon be almost doubled when the race was nearer an end.
The Farman, Curtiss and Wright machines were about on a line with the Comet, and the Winner was a little to the rear.
“I guess those big tires are too much for Noddy,” remarked Ned.
“Aren’t you going to speed up, Jerry?” asked Bob.
“Yes, I guess it’s about time.”
The race was half over when Jerry opened the gasolene throttle wider. At once the Comet shot well to the fore. As if only waiting for this the others followed suit, all save the Antoinette, which had to drop out. This left five contestants.
“Now the real race begins,” remarked Jerry grimly, as he took a firmer grasp of the steering wheel.
“And here comes Noddy,” added Ned.
Indeed the race was now on in earnest. Faster and faster flew the airships, their motors crackling and spluttering in a deafening manner. They were not flying very high, for it was desired to give the spectators a good view of the spectacular contest.
“They’re creeping up,” warned Bob, as he saw the other four machines edging closer and closer.
“Let them,” said Jerry. “I’ve got some reserve power yet, and I think they’re about all in.”
Ned looked at the speed gage.
“Ninety miles an hour!” he gasped. “We’ll finish in a few minutes more.”
“That’s what I hope to do,” replied the tall lad.
Hardly had he spoken than there sounded behind them an ominous cracking sound. In alarm our heroes looked to the wings of their craft, but they were all right.
“It’s the Curtiss,” cried Ned. “One of the wing tips had gone to smash.”
This was so. Too sudden a strain had put it out of commission. Like a disabled bird the biplane was wobbling uncertainly in the air. The next moment it shot toward earth, and came down with a crash.
Our heroes turned white, for well they knew the terrible result of such a fall. But they could not stop. On and on they went, faster and faster. Yet, as they circled the course on the last ten miles they saw Noddy and the Farman machine creeping up on them.
Now Noddy was almost on even terms, and so close that the evil, grinning faces of himself and Bill Berry could easily be seen.
“Beat him, Jerry! Beat him!” begged Ned.
“Yes, don’t let him get ahead!” pleaded Bob.
Jerry did not answer, but his lips parted in a grim smile, and his hand grasped the steering wheel more firmly while with his foot he pressed open still wider the accelerator throttle.
The Wright and Farman machines were now almost wing and wing with Noddy’s craft, which hung just at the flank of the Comet. The white balloon, marking the finish was but three miles ahead. They would be up to it in about two minutes at the fearful speed they had now attained.
Suddenly, with a rush, the Winner forged ahead of the other two contestants and took her place on even terms with the Comet.
“Look out!” cried Ned. “Noddy may foul us!”
Jerry nodded. He threw over the throttle to the end notch. The Comet shot ahead like a fox making a last desperate spurt to get away from the dogs. The finish balloon was but a few hundred feet farther on.
Suddenly the motor of the Comet ceased working. The silence was more ominous than a terrific explosion could have been.
“We’re done for!” cried Ned.
“It’s all up!” predicted Bob.
“No!” fairly shouted Jerry. “We’ll volplane the rest of the way!”
He tilted the deflecting lever. Instantly the nose of the Comet pointed earthward. There was a shout of dismay from the spectators, and a yell of triumph from Noddy Nixon.
But he had reckoned without his host. With the terrific speed at which she had been running to urge her on, and aided by the force of gravitation and her momentum, the Comet shot forward. Then, when still a good distance from the earth Jerry sent her up on a sharp slant.
Forward she shot, like an arrow from the bow, and an instant later, with her engine “dead” she crossed the line a winner, two lengths in advance of the Nixon machine, which was second.
“Wow! We did it!” cried Bob in delight.
“By the great horn spoon, yes!” yelled Ned. “Jerry, you’re a wonder!”
Jerry said nothing. He was now guiding the Comet safely to earth by the maneuver known as “volplaning.”
A RISKY CLIMB
“That race wasn’t won fair!”
“That’s right, Noddy, we’ll protest it!” This from Bill Berry, who with his crony had hurried to the office of the secretary after alighting from the Winner.
“What’s that?” asked the official, looking from Noddy to our three friends who, in response to the request, had come up to headquarters to receive the prizes they had so pluckily won.
“I say that race wasn’t won fair!” insisted the bully. “The engine of the Comet stopped and they coasted over the line. That’s not right.”
“Oh, I think it is,” replied the secretary gently. “You read the articles of agreement which you signed. They are alike for all contestants. The first machine to cross the line wins, engine or no engine.”
“Well, it’s not fair!” grumbled Noddy.
“Course it ain’t!” declared Bill. “We wouldn’t have raced if we’d known that.”
“Oh, get out!” exclaimed the operator of the Wright machine who had finished a close second to Noddy. “You make me tired. If your engine had stopped you’d have tried to win the same way. Get out! Jerry Hopkins and his chums won the race fair, and I never saw a more plucky finish! I’m proud to shake hands with you,” and he extended his palm to the tall lad.
“It gives me pleasure,” spoke the secretary, “to hand you this trophy, and the thousand dollars, and to congratulate you boys on your success,” and he passed over the gold loving cup, and a crisp thousand dollar bill.
“Speech! Speech!” came the cry from the crowd that had gathered; but Jerry, blushing furiously made his way through the press of people, followed by Ned and Bob, and sought seclusion in the hangar. But the mob was not to be denied and followed there, to gaze at the successful aviators. They insisted so on being talked to that, to get rid of them, Jerry did make a few remarks, thanking them for their appreciation, and telling something of how the race was run.
As for Noddy, like a bear with a sore head, he and Bill sulked in their tent, grumbling at the action of the officials in awarding the race to our heroes. But no one paid much attention to them. Jerry and his chums were much relieved to learn that of the two operators on the Curtiss biplane, which fell to the earth, one was only severely bruised, while the other sustained a broken arm. Their escape from death was almost miraculous.
“What was the matter with our motor that it stopped?” asked Ned, looking at the Comet which had been wheeled into the big tent.
“I don’t know, we’ll make an examination,” replied Jerry, who was gazing at the gold loving cup. “Do you know, fellows I’m prouder of this than some of the other trophies we’ve won, and we have quite a few.”
“What did you do with the thousand dollar bill?” asked Bob with a laugh.
“Oh, it’s somewhere around,” and Jerry pulled it, all crumpled up, from his trousers pocket.
“What makes you think so much of this cup?” asked Ned.
“Because we’ve won it against some of the best birdmen in the world, and against some of the speediest machines. You must remember that our craft isn’t primarily a racer. The Comet is more like a touring auto – built for pleasure, and since we put on the hydroplanes it’s considerably heavier than it was. This is the first race we’ve won since we attached them, and it goes to show that we’ve got a fine and powerful motor. That’s why I’m so proud of this cup.”
“Aren’t you going to try for the elevation prize?” inquired Bob.
“Sure, but as I said I prefer distance racing. Now we’ll look to see what the trouble was.”
“And I’ll take care of this thousand-spot,” added Ned, as he carefully put the bill in his pocketbook. “You’d use it to clean a brass pipe with, Jerry.”
It was found that a broken wire in the ignition system was responsible for the stopping of the motor, and the defect was soon remedied. While the boys were at this, a message came from the secretary, asking them if they would not oblige the big crowd by doing some special stunts late that afternoon, following the regular events. These latter included some monoplane flights, and some qualifying ascensions by men who wanted to get a pilot’s license.
“Shall we do it?” asked Jerry of his chums.
“Might as well,” replied Ned, and word to that effect was sent to the secretary.
“We ought to take the professor along if we’re going to give an exhibition,” remarked Bob a little later. “The Comet goes better with four aboard, especially when we’re doing stunts.”
“That’s right,” agreed Jerry. “I wonder where he is? I haven’t seen him since early morning.”
“Oh, he’s off after bugs, you can depend on it,” declared Ned.
They were engaged in cleaning and oiling the motor, in anticipation of the flight they were to make later in the day, when a series of shouts outside their big tent caused them to stare at each other in surprise and some apprehension.ñêà÷àòü êíèãó áåñïëàòíî
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