Series:Historical Fiction Short Stories Collection

Pages:107 Pages

Man-Killers of the Air

FICTION / Action & Adventure

By L. Ron Hubbard (Author)

Read a chapter


There's not a dare Smoke won't take, and there's not a wager he won't make. Now he's betting his life that he can fly his plane, Super Comet—with his pet cheetah Patty coming along for the ride—across the mountains and jungles of South America to a prize-winning payday.

All he has to do is out-race the competition, out-maneuver a saboteur, and make out with his girl—who's determined to bring him down to earth. One thing you can count on—in the air, in a fight, or in his girlfriend's arms—he's a man who likes to turn up the heat. Because where there's Smoke, there's fire.

"Great adventure to keep you on the edge of your seat." —Gather.com

In 1931, as a student at George Washington University, L. Ron Hubbard founded the college Glider Club and within a few months a respected columnist said “he is recognized as one of the outstanding glider pilots in the country." Later he wrote as the aviation correspondent for the prestigious flying magazine Sportsman Pilot. His combined writing and flying expertise comprised the perfect recipe to give stories like Man-Killers of the Air their authentic flavor.


Man-Killers of the Air Glossary

Stories from the Golden Age reflect the words and expressions used in the 1930s and 1940s, adding unique flavor and authenticity to the tales. While a character’s speech may often reflect regional origins, it also can convey attitudes common in the day. So that readers can better grasp such cultural and historical terms, uncommon words or expressions of the era, the following glossary has been provided.

aileron: a hinged flap on the trailing edge of an aircraft wing, used to control banking movements.

amphibian: an airplane designed for taking off from and landing on both land and water.

Andes: a mountain range that extends the length of the western coast of South America.

Bolling: Bolling Field; located in southwest Washington, DC and officially opened in 1918, it was named in honor of the first high-ranking air service officer killed in World War I. Bolling served as a research and testing ground for new aviation equipment and its first mission provided aerial defense of the capital.

camphor: a tough, gummy, volatile, aromatic crystalline compound obtained especially from the wood and bark of the camphor tree.

cheetah: also called a hunting leopard. A long-legged, swift-running wild cat of Africa and southwest Asia, having tawny, black-spotted fur and nonretractile claws. The cheetah is the fastest animal on land and can run short distances at about sixty miles (ninety-six km) per hour.

club: airplane propeller.

Colón: a seaport in Panama at the Atlantic end of the Panama Canal.

cowl: a removable metal covering for an engine, especially an aircraft engine.

crate: an airplane.

cutaway: a man’s formal daytime coat, with front edges sloping diagonally from the waist and forming tails at the back.

fag: cigarette.

fins: fixed vertical surfaces at the tail of an aircraft that give stability, and to which the rudders are attached.

foil: airfoil; any surface (such as a wing, propeller blade or rudder) designed to aid in lifting, directing or controlling an aircraft by using the current of air it moves through.

frau: a wife.

G-men: government men; agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Gullivers in Brobdingnag: refers to a satire, Gulliver’s Travels, by Jonathan Swift in 1726. Lemuel Gulliver, an Englishman, travels to exotic lands, including Lilliput (where the people are six inches tall), Brobdingnag (where the people are seventy feet tall), and the land of the Houyhnhnms (where horses are the intelligent beings, and humans, called Yahoos, are mute brutes of labor).

hail-fellow: heartily friendly and congenial.

hunting leopard: another name for cheetah.

jaguar: a large wildcat of Central and South America, closely related to the leopard and having a tawny coat spotted with black rosettes. One of many spotted cats, a jaguar may be mistaken for a leopard or cheetah.

legman: a reporter who gathers information by visiting news sources, or by being present at news events.

Lindbergh Field: now San Diego Airport; opened in 1928, the airport was named after Charles Lindbergh, since San Diego had the honor of being the city where he began the journey that would ultimately become the first solo transatlantic flight. It was also the first federally certified airfield to serve all aircraft types, including seaplanes. It gained international airport status in 1934.

Malacca: the stem of a species of palm, brown in color and often mottled, used for making canes and umbrella handles; named after a town in western Malaysia.

Messerschmitt: a famous German aircraft manufacturer known primarily for its World War II fighter aircraft. In 1927, Willy Messerschmitt joined the company, then known as Bavarian Aircraft Works, as chief designer. He promoted a new lightweight design in which many separate parts were merged into a single reinforced firewall, thereby saving weight and improving performance. The Messerschmitt became a favorite of the German government and in 1938 the company was renamed with Willy Messerschmitt as chairman.

monoplane: an airplane with one sustaining surface or one set of wings.

morning coats: men’s jackets, usually black, cut away at the front below the waist and with a long divided tail, worn on formal occasions as part of morning dress.

Mount Tupungato: a mountain of 22,310 feet (6,804 meters), in the Andes on the Chile-Argentina border east of Santiago, Chile.

newshawk: a newspaper reporter, especially one who is energetic and aggressive.

Nine: Nine Sports; a two-seater sports car produced in Coventry, England from 1932 to 1937. They were a nine-horsepower range of cars, thus giving them the name Nine, and could reach a speed of over sixty-six miles per hour with the windscreen lowered flat.

pampas: large treeless plains in South America.

Pan Am: Pan American World Airways, the principal international airline of the United States from the 1930s until it closed its operations in 1991. Originally founded as a seaplane service out of Florida, the airline became a major company credited with many innovations that shaped the international airline industry.

pash: passion.

peon: (Spanish) a farm worker or unskilled laborer; day laborer.

Potomac: a river in the east central United States; it begins in the Appalachian Mountains in West Virginia and flows eastward to the Chesapeake Bay, forming the boundary between Maryland and Virginia.

Prussian: in the manner of a military officer from Prussia. Prussia, a former northern European nation, based much of its rule on armed might, stressing rigid military discipline and maintaining one of the most strictly drilled armies in the world.

pylon: a tower marking a turning point in a race among aircraft.

QT, on the: on the quiet; secretly.

Rio Solimões: the name often given to early stretches of the Amazon River.

roadster: an open-top automobile with a single seat in front for two or three persons, a fabric top and either a luggage compartment or a rumble seat in back. A rumble seat is an upholstered exterior seat with a hinged lid that opens to form the back of the seat when in use.

rod: a measure of length; a rod is sixteen and a half feet.

rudder: a device used to steer ships or aircraft. A rudder is a flat plane or sheet of material attached with hinges to the craft’s stern or tail. In typical aircraft, pedals operate rudders via mechanical linkages.

rumble: rumble seat; an upholstered exterior seat in the back of a car with a hinged lid that opens to form the back of the seat when in use.

Scheherazade: the female narrator of The Arabian Nights, who during one thousand and one adventurous nights saved her life by entertaining her husband, the king, with stories.

shylock: a hard-hearted banker or lender who is concerned only with profit.

slipstream: the airstream pushed back by a revolving aircraft propeller.

snap rolled: (of an aircraft) quickly rolled about its longitudinal axis while flying horizontally.

soup: added power, especially horsepower.

SP: Sportsman Pilot; aviation journal published in the 1930s.

spats: cloth or leather covers that fit on the top of men’s shoes, extending up over the ankles and fastening under the shoes with a strap.

spatted wheels: a structure around the top of the wheels of a fixed airplane landing gear.

struts: supports for a structure such as an aircraft wing, roof or bridge.

swagger coat: a woman’s pyramid-shaped coat with a full flared back and usually raglan sleeves (sleeves extending to the collar of a garment instead of ending at the shoulder), first popularized in the 1930s.

swindle sheet: an expense account.

Teuton: a native of Germany or a person of German origin.

toe the mark: to behave properly.

turtleback: the part of the airplane behind the cockpit that is shaped like the back of a turtle.

Udet: Ernst Udet (1896–1941), the second-highest-scoring German flying ace of World War I, with sixty-two victories.

war box: war chest; a fund reserved for a particular purpose.

yellow journalism: journalism that exploits, distorts or exaggerates the news to create sensations and attract readers.

ZT: aircraft designation for an obsolete trainer. Z stands for “obsolete” and T is the designation for “trainer.”


Goodreads Reviews