Part 1 out of 5
DICK HAMILTON'S AIRSHIP; OR, A YOUNG MILLIONAIRE IN THE CLOUDS
BY Howard R. Garis
I THE FALLING BIPLANE
II THE COLONEL'S OFFER
III DICK'S RESOLVE
IV THE ARMY AVIATORS
VI DICK'S FIRST FLIGHT
VII A QUEER LANDING
VIII AT HAMILTON CORNERS
IX UNCLE EZRA'S VISIT
X BUILDING THE AIRSHIP
XI A SURPRISE
XII LARSON SEES UNCLE EZRA
XIII UNCLE EZRA ACTS QUEERLY
XIV THE TRIAL FLIGHT
XV IN DANGER
XVI DICK IS WARNED
XVII OFF FOR THE START
XVIII UNCLE EZRA FLIES
XIX UNCLE EZRA'S ACCIDENT
XX IN NEW YORK
XXI OFF FOR THE PACIFIC
XXII UNCLE EZRA STARTS OFF
XXIII AN IMPROMPTU RACE
XXIV GRIT'S GRIP
XXV A FORCED LANDING
XXVI ON LACK MICHIGAN
XXVII A HOWLING GALE
XXVIII ABLAZE IN THE CLOUDS
XXIX THE RIVAL AIRSHIP
XXX AN ATTACK
XXXI THE WRECK
XXXII SAVING UNCLE EZRA
XXXIII WITH UNCLE EZRA'S HELP
THE FALLING BIPLANE
"She sure is a fine boat, Dick."
"And she can go some, too!"
"Glad you like her, fellows," replied Dick Hamilton, to the remarks
of his chums, Paul Drew and Innis Beeby, as he turned the wheel of
a new motor-boat and sent the craft about in a graceful sweep toward
a small dock which connected with a little excursion resort on the
"Like her! Who could help it?" asked Paul, looking about admiringly
at the fittings of the craft. "Why, you could go on a regular
cruise in her!"
"You might if you kept near your base of supplies," remarked Dick.
"Base of supplies!" laughed Innis. "Can't you forget, for a while,
that you're at a military school, old man, and not give us the sort
of stuff we get in class all the while?"
"Well, what I meant," explained the young millionaire owner of the
motor-boat, "was that you couldn't carry enough food aboard, and
have room to move about, if you went on a very long trip."
"That's right, you couldn't," agreed Paul. "And of late I seem to
have acquired the eating habit in its worst form."
"I never knew the time when you didn't have it," responded Dick.
"I'm going to give you a chance to indulge in it right now, and I'm
going to profit by your example."
"What's doing?" asked Innis, as he straightened the collar of his
military blouse, for the three were in the fatigue uniforms of the
Kentfield Military Academy, where Dick and his chums attended.
Lessons and practice were over for the day, and the young
millionaire had invited his friends out for a little trip in his
"I thought we'd just stop at Bruce's place, and get a sandwich and
a cup of coffee," suggested Dick. "Then we can go on down the river
and we won't have to be back until time for guard-mount. We'll be
better able to stand it, if we get a bite to eat."
"Right you are, old chap!" exclaimed Paul, and then he, too, began
to smooth the wrinkles out of his blouse and to ease his rather
tight trousers at the knees.
"Say, what's the matter with you dudes, anyhow?" asked Dick, who,
after glancing ahead to see that he was on the right course to the
dock, looked back to give some attention to the motor.
"Matter! I don't see anything the matter," remarked Innis in casual
tones, while he flicked some dust from his shoes with a spare pocket
"Why, you two are fussing as though you were a couple of girls at
your first dance," declared Dick, as he adjusted the valves of the
oil cups to supply a little more lubricant to the new motor, which
had not yet warmed up to its work. "Innis acts as though he were
sorry he hadn't come out in his dress uniform, and as for you, Paul,
I'm beginning to think you are afraid you hadn't shaved. What's it
all about, anyhow? Old man Bruce won't care whether you have on one
tan shoe and one black one; or whether your hair is parted, or not."
Then Dick, having gotten the motor running to his satisfaction,
looked toward the dock which he was rapidly nearing in his boat.
The next moment he gave a whistle of surprise.
"Ah, ha! No wonder!" he cried. "The girls? So that's why you
fellows were fixing up, and getting yourselves to look pretty. And
you let me monkey with the motor, and get all grease and dirt while
you-- Say, I guess we'll call off this eating stunt," and he swung
over the steering wheel.
"Oh, I say?" protested Innis.
"Don't be mean?" added Paul. "We haven't seen the girls in some
time, and there's three of 'em--"
Dick laughed. On the dock, under the shade of an awning, he had
caught sight of three pretty girls from town--girls he and his chums
knew quite well. They were Mabel Hanford, in whom Dick was more
than ordinarily interested, Grace Knox, and Irene Martin.
"I thought I'd get a rise out of you fellows," the young millionaire
went on. "Trying to get me in bad, were you!"
The boat swerved away from the dock. The girls, who had arisen,
evidently to come down to the float, and welcome the approaching
cadets, seemed disappointed. One of them had waved her handkerchief
in response to a salute from Paul.
"Here, take some of this and clean your face," suggested Paul,
handing Dick some cotton waste from a seat locker.
"And here's a bit for your shoes," added Innis, performing a like
service. "You'll look as good as we do."
"What about my hands?" asked Dick. "Think I want to go up and sit
alongside of a girl with paws like these?" and he held out one that
was black and oily.
"Haven't you any soap aboard?" asked Innis, for he, like Paul,
seemed anxious that Dick should land them at the dock where the
"Oh, well, if you fellows are as anxious as all that I s'pose I'll
have to humor you," agreed Dick, with a grin. "I dare say Bruce
can let me wash up in his place," and he turned the craft back on
the course he had previously been holding. A little later the
motor-boat was made fast to the float, and the three cadets were
greeting the three girls.
"Look out for my hands!" warned Dick, as Miss Hanford's light summer
dress brushed near him. "I'm all oil and grease. I'll go scrub up,
if you'll excuse me."
"Certainly," said Mabel Hanford, with a rippling laugh.
When Dick returned, he ordered a little lunch served out on the end
of the dock, where they could sit and enjoy the cool breezes, and
look at the river on which were many pleasure craft.
"Where were you boys going?" asked Grace Knox, as she toyed with
her ice-cream spoon.
"Coming to see you," answered Paul promptly.
"As if we'd believe that!" mocked Irene. "Why, you were going right
past here, and only turned in when you saw us!"
"Dick didn't want to come at all," said Innis.
"He didn't! Why not?" demanded Mabel.
"Bashful, I guess," murmured Paul.
"No, it was because I didn't want to inflict the company of these
two bores on you ladies!" exclaimed Dick, thus "getting back."
There was much gay talk and laughter, and, as the afternoon was
still young, Dick proposed taking the girls out for a little jaunt
in his new craft He had only recently purchased it, and, after using
it at Kentfield, he intended taking it with him to a large lake,
where he and his father expected to spend the Summer.
"Oh, that was just fine!" cried Mabel, when the ride was over, and
the party was back at the pier. "Thank you, so much, Dick!"
"Humph! You have US to thank--not him!" declared Paul. "He
wouldn't have turned in here if we hadn't made him. And just
because his hands had a little oil on!"
"Say, don't believe him!" protested the young millionaire. "I had
proposed coming here before I knew you girls were on the dock."
"Well, we thank all THREE of you!" cried Irene, with a bow that
included the trio of cadets.
"Salute!" exclaimed Paul, and the young soldiers drew themselves up
stiffly, and, in the most approved manner taught at Kentfield,
brought their hands to their heads.
"'Bout face! Forward--march! " cried Grace, imitating an officer's
orders, and the boys, with laughs stood "at ease."
"See you at the Junior prom!"
"Yes, don't forget."
"And save me a couple of hesitation waltzes!"
"Can you come for a ride tomorrow?"
This last was the answer of the girls to Dick's invitation, and the
exclamations before that were the good-byes between the girls and
boys, reference being made to a coming dance of the Junior class.
Then Dick and his chums entered the motor-boat and started back for
the military academy.
"You've got to go some to get back in time to let us tog up for
guard-mount," remarked Paul, looking at his watch.
"That's right," added Innis. "I don't want to get a call-down.
I'm about up to my limit now.
"We'll do it all right," announced Dick. "I haven't speeded the
motor yet. I've been warming it up. I'll show you what she can
He opened wider the gasoline throttle of the engine, and advanced
the timer. Instantly the boat shot ahead, as the motor ran at twice
the number of revolutions.
"That's something like!" cried Paul admiringly.
"She sure has got speed," murmured Innis.
On they sped, talking of the girls, of their plans for the summer,
and the coming examinations.
"Hark! What's that?" suddenly asked Paul, holding up his hand for
They were made aware of a curious, humming, throbbing sound.
"Some speed boat," ventured Dick.
"None in sight," objected Paul, with a glance up and down the river,
which at this point ran in a straight stretch for two miles or more.
"You could see a boat if you could hear it as plainly as that."
"It's getting louder," announced Innis.
Indeed the sound was now more plainly to be heard.
Paul gave a quick glance upward.
"Look, fellows!" he exclaimed. "An airship!"
The sound was right over their heads now, and as all three looked
up they saw, soaring over them, a large biplane, containing three
figures. It was low enough for the forms to be distinguished
"Some airship!" cried Dick, admiringly.
"And making time, too," remarked Innis.
Aircraft were no novelties to the cadets. In fact part of the
instruction at Kentfield included wireless, and the theoretical use
of aeroplanes in war. The cadets had gone in a body to several
aviation meets, and once had been taken by Major Franklin Webster,
the instructor in military tactics, to an army meet where several
new forms of biplanes and monoplanes had been tried out, to see
which should be given official recognition.
"I never saw one like that before," remarked Paul, as they watched
the evolutions of the craft above them.
"Neither did I," admitted Dick.
"I've seen one something like that," spoke Innis.
"Where?" his chums wanted to know, as Dick slowed down his boat,
the better to watch the biplane, which was now circling over the
"Why, a cousin of mine, Whitfield Vardon by name, has the airship
craze pretty bad," resumed Innis. "He has an idea he can make one
that will maintain its equilibrium no matter how the wind blows or
what happens. But, poor fellow, he's spent all his money on
experiments and he hasn't succeeded. The last I heard, he was about
down and out, poor chap. He showed me a model of his machine once,
and it looked a lot like this. But this one seems to work, and his
didn't--at least when I saw it."
"It's mighty interesting to watch, all right," spoke Paul, "but
we'll be in for a wigging if we miss guard-mount. Better speed her
"Yes, I guess so. But we've got time--"
Dick never finished that sentence. Innis interrupted him with a
"Look, something's wrong on that aircraft!"
"I should say so!" yelled Paul. "They've lost control of her!"
The big biplane was in serious difficulties, for it gave a lurch,
turned turtle, and then, suddenly righting, shot downward for the
"They're going to get a ducking, all right!" cried Innis.
"Yes, and they may be killed, or drowned," added Paul.
"I'll do what I can to save 'em!" murmured Dick, as he turned on
more power, and headed his boat for the place where the aircraft
was likely to plunge into the water.
Hardly had he done so when, with a great splash, and a sound as of
an explosion, while a cloud of steam arose as the water sprayed on
the hot motor, the aircraft shot beneath the waves raised by the
"Stand ready now!"
"Get out a preserver!"
"Toss 'em that life ring!"
"Ready with the boat hook! Slow down your engine, Dick."
The motor-boat was at the scene of the accident, and when one of
the occupants of the wrecked airship came up to the surface Dick
made a grab for him, catching the boat hook in the neck of his coat.
The next instant Dick gave a cry of surprise.
"Larry Dexter--the reporter!" he fairly shouted. "How in the world--
"Let me get aboard--I'll talk when--when I get rid of--of--some of
this water!" panted Larry Dexter. "Can you save the others?"
"I've got one!" shouted Paul. "Give me a hand, Innis!"
Together the two cadets lifted into the motorboat a limp and
bedraggled figure. And, no sooner had he gotten a glimpse of the
man's face, than Innis Beeby cried:
"By Jove! If it isn't my cousin, Whitfield Vardon!"
THE COLONEL'S OFFER
Two more surprised youths than Dick Hamilton and Innis Beeby would
have been hard to find. That the young millionaire should meet
Larry Dexter, a newspaper reporter with whom he had been acquainted
some time, in this startling fashion was one thing to wonder at, but
that Innis should help in the rescue of his cousin, of whom he had
just been speaking, was rather too much to crowd into a few
"Whitfield!" gasped Innis, when his cousin had been safely gotten
aboard. "How in the world did you get here? And was that your
"Yes. But don't stop to talk now!" gasped the rescued aviator.
"My machinist, Jack Butt, went down with us! Can you see anything
Eagerly the eyes of the cadets searched the waters that had now
subsided from the commotion caused by the plunging down of the
wrecked aircraft. Then Dick cried:
"I see something moving! Right over there!"
He pointed to where the water was swirling, and the next moment he
threw in the clutch of his motor. The propeller churned the water
to foam, and the craft shot ahead.
The next instant a body came to the surface. A man began to strike
out feebly, but it was evident he was nearly drowned.
"That's Jack! That's my helper!" cried Mr. Vardon. "Can you save
"Take the wheel!" shouted Dick to Paul. And then, as the motor-boat
shot ahead, the rich youth leaned over the gunwale, and, holding on
to a forward deck cleat with one hand, he reached over, and with the
other, caught the coat collar of the swimmer, who had thrown up his
arms, and was about to sink again.
"I'll give you a hand!" cried Innis, and between them the cadets
lifted into the boat the now inert form of Jack Butt.
"Stop the motor!"
"We've got to try artificial respiration!"
In turn Innis, Paul and Dick shot out these words. And, seeing that
the other two rescued ones were in no need of attention, the cadets
proceeded to put to practical use the lessons in first aid to the
drowning they had learned at Kentfield.
And, while this is going on I am going to take just a few moments,
in which to tell my new readers something about the previous books
in this series.
The only son of Mortimer Hamilton, of Hamilton Corners, in New York
state, Dick was a millionaire in his own right. His mother had left
him a large estate, and in the first volume of this series,
entitled, "Dick Hamilton's Fortune; Or, The Stirring Doings of a
Millionaire's Son," I related what Dick had to do in order to become
fully possessed of a large sum of money. He had to prove that he
was really capable of handling it, and he nearly came to grief in
doing this, as many a better youth might have done.
Dick's uncle, Ezra Larabee, of Dankville, was a rich man, but a
miser. He was not in sympathy with Dick, nor with the plans his
sister, Dick's mother, had made for her son. Consequently, Uncle
Ezra did all he could to make it unpleasant for Dick while the
latter was paying him a visit of importance.
But Dick triumphed over his uncle, and also over certain sharpers
who tried to get the best of him.
My second volume, entitled, "Dick Hamilton's Cadet Days, Or, The
Handicap of a Millionaire's Son," deals with our hero's activities
at the Kentfield Military Academy. This was a well-known school,
at the head of which was Colonel Masterly. Major Henry Rockford
was the commandant, and the institution turned out many first-class
young men, with a groundwork of military training. The school was
under the supervision of officers from the regular army, the
resident one being Major Webster.
Dick had rather a hard time at Kentfield--at first--for he had to
get over the handicap of being a millionaire. But how he did it
you may read, and, I trust, enjoy.
In "Dick Hamilton's Steam Yacht; Or, A Young Millionaire and the
Kidnappers," Dick got into a "peck of trouble," to quote his chum,
Innis Beeby. But the rich youth finally triumphed over the designs
of Uncle Ezra, and was able to foil some plotters.
"Dick Hamilton's Football Team; Or, A Young Millionaire On the
Gridiron," tells of the efforts of Dick to make a first-class eleven
from the rather poor material he found at Kentfield. How he did it,
though not without hard work, and how the team finally triumphed
over the Blue Hill players, you will find set down at length in the
"Dick Hamilton's Touring Car; Or, A Young Millionaire's Race for a
Fortune," took our hero on a long trip, and in one of the largest,
finest and most completely equipped automobiles that a certain firm
had ever turned out.
I have mentioned Larry Dexter, and I might say that in a line
entitled, "The Young Reporter Series," I have give an account of
the doings of this youth who rose from the position of office boy
on a New York newspaper to be a "star" man, that is, one entrusted
with writing only the biggest kind of stories. Dick had met Larry
while in New York, and Larry had profited by the acquaintanceship
by getting a "beat," or exclusive story, about the young
On the return of Dick and his cadet chums from a trip to California,
the rich youth had again taken up his studies at Kentfield.
And now we behold him, out in his motor-boat, having just succeeded
in helping rescue the master and "crew" of the aircraft that had
plunged into the river.
"There; he breathed."
"I think he's coming around now."
"Better get him to shore though. He'll need a doctor!"
Thus remarked Dick, Paul and Innis as they labored over the
unfortunate mechanician of the biplane. They had used artificial
respiration on him until he breathed naturally.
"I'll start the boat," announced Dick, for the craft had been
allowed to drift while the lifesaving work was going on. "We want
to make time back."
"This certainly is a surprise," remarked Larry Dexter, as he tried
to wring some of the water out of his clothes.
"More to me than it is to you, I guess," suggested Dick. "I suppose
you birdmen are used to accidents like this?"
"More or less," answered the cousin of Innis Beeby. "But I never
expected to come to grief, and be rescued by Innis."
"Nor did I expect to see you," said the cadet.
"We were just speaking of you, or, rather I was, as we saw your
craft in the air. I was wondering if you had perfected your
"It doesn't look so--does it?" asked the airship inventor, with a
rueful smile in the direction of the sunken aircraft. "I guess I'm
at the end of my rope," he added, sadly. "But I'm glad none of us
"So am I!" exclaimed Dick. "But how in the world did you come to
take up aviation, Larry?" he asked, of the young newspaper man.
"Have you given up reporting?"
"No indeed," replied Larry Dexter. "But this air game is getting
to be so important, especially the army and navy end of it, that my
paper decided we ought to have an expert of our own to keep up with
the times. So they assigned me to the job, and I'm learning how to
manage an aircraft. I guess the paper figures on sending me out to
scout in the clouds for news. Though if I don't make out better
than this, they'll get someone else in my place."
"Something went wrong--I can't understand it," said the aircraft
inventor, shaking his head. "The machine ought not to have plunged
down like that. I can't understand it."
"I'd like to send the story back to my paper," went on Larry.
"Always on the lookout for news!" remarked Dick. "We'll see that
you send off your yarn all right. There's a telegraph office in
the Academy now. I'll fix it for you."
The run to the school dock was soon made, and the arrival of Dick's
motor-boat, with the rescued ones from the airship, which had been
seen flying over the parade grounds a little while before, made some
"We've missed guard-mount!" remarked Innis, as he saw the other
cadets at the drill.
"Can't be helped. We had a good excuse," said Dick. "Now we've
got to attend to him," and he nodded at Jack Butt, who seemed to
have collapsed again.
With military promptness, the mechanic was carried to the hospital,
and the school doctor was soon working over him. Meanwhile, dry
garments had been supplied to Larry and Mr. Vardon. A messenger
came from Colonel Masterly to learn what was going on, and, when he
heard of the rescue, Dick and his chums were excused from taking
part in the day's closing drill.
"He's coming around all right," the physician remarked to the young
millionaire, on the way from the hospital, where he had been
attending Jack Butt. "It seems that he was entangled in some part
of the aircraft, and couldn't get to the surface until he was nearly
drowned. But he's all right now, though he needs rest and care."
"I wonder if he can stay here?" asked Dick. "Oh, yes, I'll attend
to that for you," the doctor promised. "I'll arrange with Colonel
Masterly about that. And your other friends--I think they should
remain, too. They probably are in rather an unpleasant plight."
"I'll look after them," said Dick. "I can put them up. One is a
newspaper man, and the other a cousin of Beeby's. He's an airship
"Is that so? Colonel Masterly might be interested to know that."
"Why?" asked Dick.
"Because I understand that he is about to add a course in aviation
to the studies here. It has been discussed in faculty meetings, so
it is no secret."
"An aviation course at Kentfield!" cried Dick, with shining eyes.
"Yes. Are you interested?" the doctor asked.
"Well, I hadn't thought about it, but I believe I should like to
have an airship," the young millionaire went on. "Down, Grit,
down!" he commanded, as a beautiful bulldog came racing from the
stables to fawn upon his master. I used the word "beautiful" with
certain restrictions, for Grit was about the homeliest bulldog in
But his very hideousness made him "beautiful" to a lover of dogs.
He jumped about in delight at seeing Dick again, for he had been
shut up, so he would not insist on going out in the motor-boat.
Quarters were provided for Larry Dexter, who sent off a brief
account of the accident to the airship, and Mr. Vardon was looked
after by Innis. Butt, of course, remained in the hospital.
Dr. Morrison was right when he said that Colonel Masterly would be
interested in meeting the luckless aviator. Innis took his cousin
to the head of the school, and Mr. Vardon told of his invention,
briefly, and also of the mishap to his biplane.
"Perhaps this is providential," said the colonel musingly. "For
some time I have been considering the starting of an aviation course
here, and it may be you would like to assist me in it. I want the
cadets to learn something about the fundamentals of heavier-than-air
machines. Will you accept a position as instructor?"
"I will, gladly," said Mr. Vardon. "I might as well admit that I
have no further funds to pursue my experiments, though I am
satisfied that I am on the right track. But my machine is wrecked."
"Perhaps it can be raised," said the colonel, cheerfully. "We will
talk about that later. And we may find a way to have you conduct
your experiments here."
"I can not thank you enough, sir," returned the aviator. "And I am
also deeply indebted to my cousin's chum--Dick Hamilton. But for
him, and the other cadets in the boat, we might all have been
"I'm glad we were on hand," said Dick, with a smile.
"What do you know about that?"
"A regular course in aviation!"
"And birdmen from the United States Army to came here and show us
how to do stunts!"
"Well, you fellows can go in for it if you like, but automobiling
is dangerous enough sport for me."
"Ah, what's the matter with you? Flying is pretty nearly as safe
now as walking! Not half as many birdmen have been killed as there
have railroad travelers."
"No, because there are more railroad travelers to be killed. No
cloud flights for mine!"
A group of cadets, Dick, Innis and Paul among them, were discussing
the latest news at Kentfield.
It was the day following the accident to the biplane. After a brief
consultation with Mr. Vardon, and a calling together of his faculty
members, Colonel Masterly had made formal announcement that a course
in aviation would be open at Kentfield for those who cared to take
"I think it will be great!" cried Dick.
"Are you going in for it?" asked Paul.
"I sure am--if dad will let me."
"Oh, I guess he will all right," spoke Innis, "He lets you do almost
anything you want to--in reason. But I know a certain person who
"Who?" asked Dick, fondling his dog.
"Your Uncle Ezra!"
"I guess that's so!" laughed Dick. "He'll say it's expensive, and
all that sort of thing, and that I'll be sure to break my neck, or
at least fracture an arm. But we saw one accident that came out
pretty well. I think I'll take a chance."
"So will I!" cried Paul.
"I guess you can count me in," agreed Innis, slowly.
"How about it, Larry?" asked Dick, as the young reporter came across
the campus. "How does it feel to sail above the clouds?"
"Well, I haven't yet gone up that far. This is only about my fifth
flight, and we only did 'grass cutting' for the first few--that is
going up only a little way above the ground. I had to get used to
"But it's great! I like it, and you're only afraid the first few
minutes. After that you don't mind it a bit--that is not until you
get into trouble, as we did."
"And I can't understand that trouble, either," said Mr. Vardon, who
had joined the group of cadets. "Something went wrong!"
"You mean something was MADE to go wrong," put in Jack Butt, who
had now recovered sufficiently to be about.
"Something made to go wrong?" repeated Dick Hamilton, wonderingly.
"That's what I said. That machine was tampered with before we
started on our flight. I'm sure of it, and if we could get it up
from the bottom of the river I could prove it."
"Be careful," warned the aviator. "Do you know what you are saying,
Jack? Who would tamper with my machine?"
"Well, there are many who might have done it," the machinist went
on. "Some of the mechanics you have discharged for not doing their
work properly might have done it. But the fellow I suspect is that
young army officer who got huffy because you wouldn't explain all
about your equalizing gyroscope, or stabilizer."
"Oh--you mean him?" gasped the aviator.
"That's the man," declared Jack. "He went off mad when you turned
him down, and I heard him muttering to himself about 'getting even.'
I'm sure he's the chap to blame for our accident."
"I should dislike to think that of anyone," said Mr. Vardon, slowly.
"But I am sure something was wrong with my aircraft. It had worked
perfectly in other trials, and then it suddenly went back on me.
I should like a chance to examine it."
"We'll try and give you that chance," said Colonel Masterly, who
came up at that moment. "We are to have a drill in building a
pontoon bridge across the river tomorrow, and I will order it thrown
across the stream at the point where your airship went down. Then
we may be able to raise the craft."
"That will be fine!" exclaimed the airship man. "I may even be able
to save part of my craft, to use in demonstration purposes. I may
even be able, to use part of it in building another. It was a fine
machine, but something went wrong."
"Something was made to go wrong!" growled Jack Butt. "If ever we
raise her I'll prove it, too."
"Well, young gentlemen, I suppose you have heard the news?"
questioned the colonel, as the aviator-inventor and his helper
walked off to one side of the campus, talking earnestly together.
"You mean about the airship instruction we are to get here, sir?"
"That's it. And I am also glad to announce that I have heard from
the war department, and they are going to send some army aviators
here to give us the benefit of their work, and also to show some of
you cadets how to fly."
There was a cheer at this, though some of the lads looked a bit
"Are you really going in for it, Dick?" asked Innis, after there had
been an informal discussion among the colonel and some of the boys
about the aviation instruction.
"Well, I am, unless I change my mind," replied Dick, with a smile.
"Of course, after I make my first flight, if I ever do, it may be
my last one."
"Huh! You're not taking a very cheerful view of it," retorted
Innis, "to think that you're going to come a smash the first shot
out of the locker."
"Oh, I didn't mean just that," replied Dick, quickly. "I meant that
I might lose my nerve after the first flight, and not go up again."
"Guess there isn't much danger of you losing your nerve," said Paul
Drew, admiringly. "I've generally noticed that you have it with you
on most occasions."
"Thanks!" exclaimed Dick, with a mock salute.
Strolling over the campus, Dick and his chums talked airships and
aviation matters until it was time for guard-mount.
During the next day or two it might have been noticed that Dick
Hamilton was rather more quiet than usual. In fact his chums did
notice, and comment on it. A number of times they had seen the
young millionaire in a brown study, walking off by himself, and
again he could be observed strolling about, gazing earnestly up at
the clouds and sky.
"Say, I wonder what's come over Dick?" asked Paul of Innis one
"Blessed if I know," was the answer, "unless he's fallen in love."
"Get out! He's too sensible. But he sure has something on his
"I agree with you. Well, if he wants to know he'll tell us."
So they let the matter drop for the time being. But Dick's
abstraction grew deeper. He wrote a number of letters, and sent
some telegrams, and his friends began to wonder if matters at Dick's
home were not altogether right.
But the secret, if such it could be called, was solved by the
unexpected arrival of Mr. Hamilton at Kentfield. He appeared on
the campus after drill one day, and Dick greeted his parent
"So you got here, after all, Dad?" he cried, as he shook hands, Paul
and Innis also coming over to meet the millionaire.
"Well, I felt I just had to come, Dick, after all you wrote and
telegraphed me," replied Mr. Hamilton. "I thought we could do
better by having a talk than by correspondence. But, I tell you,
frankly, I don't approve of what you are going to do."
Dick's chums looked curiously at him.
"I may as well confess," laughed the young millionaire, "I'm
thinking of buying an airship, fellows."
"Whew!" whistled Paul.
"That's going some, as the boys say," commented Innis. "Tell us
all about it."
"I will," said Dick, frankly. "It's been on my mind the last few
"So that's been your worry!" interrupted Paul. "I knew it was
something, but I never guessed it was that. Fire ahead."
"Ever since your cousin came here, Innis, in his craft, and since
the colonel has arranged for aviation instruction, I've been
thinking of having an airship of my own," Dick resumed. "I wrote
to dad about it, but he didn't seem to take to the idea very much."
"No, I can't say that I did," said Mr. Hamilton, decidedly. "I
consider it dangerous."
"It's getting more safe every day, Dad. Look how dangerous
automobiling was at the start, and yet that's nearly perfect now,
though of course there'll always be accidents. But I won't go in
for this thing, Dad, if you really don't want me to."
"Well, I won't say no, and I'll not say yes--at least not just yet,"
said Mr. Hamilton slowly. "I want to think it over, have a talk
with some of these 'birdmen' as you call them, and then you and I'll
consider it together, Dick. That's why I came on. I want to know
more about it before I make up my mind."
Mr. Hamilton became the guest of the colonel, as he had done on
several occasions before, and, in the following days, he made as
careful a study of aviation as was possible under the circumstances.
He also had several interviews with Mr. Vardon.
"Have you decided to let your son have an airship of his own?" the
colonel asked, when the millionaire announced that he would start
for New York the following morning.
"Well, I've been thinking pretty hard about the matter," was the
answer. "I hardly know what to do. I'm afraid it's only another
one of Dick's hare-brained ideas, and if he goes in for it, he'll
come a cropper.
"And, maybe, on the whole, it wouldn't be a bad idea to let him go
in for it, and make a fizzle of it. It would be a good lesson to
him, though I would certainly regret, exceedingly, if he were even
"On the other hand Dick is pretty lucky. He may come out all right.
I suppose he'll go in and try to win some prizes at these aviation
meets they hold every once in a while."
"Yes, there are to be several," spoke the colonel. "I heard
something about the government offering a big prize for a successful
trans-continental flight--from the Atlantic to the Pacific, but I
know nothing of the details."
"Well, I suppose Dick would be rash enough to try for that, if he
hears about it," murmured Mr. Hamilton. "I guess, taking it on all
sides, that I'll let him have an airship, if only to prove that he
can't work it. He needs a little toning down, most young chaps do,
I fancy. I know I did when I was a lad. Yes, if he makes a fizzle
of it, the lesson may be worth something to him--throwing his money
away on an airship. But I'll give my consent."
And when Dick was told by his parent, not very enthusiastically,
that he might secure an aircraft, the young cadet's delight was
"That's fine!" he cried, shaking hands heartily with his father.
"Well, I hope you succeed in flying your machine, when you get it,
but, as the Scotchman said, 'I have my doubts,'" said Mr. Hamilton,
"Humph!" mused Dick later. "Dad doesn't think much of me in the
aviator class, I guess. But I'll go in for this thing now, if only
to show him that I can do it! I've done harder stunts, and if the
Hamilton luck doesn't fail, I'll do this. I'll make a long flight,
and put one over on dad again. He thinks I can't do it--but I'll
show him I can!" exclaimed Dick, with sparkling eyes.
Dick communicated his father's decision to Paul and Innis.
"I'm going to have an airship!" he cried. "It wasn't easy to get
dad's consent, but he gave it. Now, how about you fellows coming
on a cruise in the clouds with me?"
"Say, how big a machine are you going to have?" Paul wanted to know.
"Well, my ideas are rather hazy yet," admitted the young
millionaire, "but if I can get it built, it's going to be one of
the biggest airships yet made. We'll travel in style, if we travel
at all," he said, with a laugh. "I'm thinking of having an aircraft
with some sort of enclosed cabin on it."
"Say, that will be quite an elaborate affair," commented Innis.
"The question is, will you fellows take a chance with me in it?"
"Well, I guess so," responded Paul, slowly.
Innis nodded in rather a faint-hearted fashion.
"Now," said Dick, "I want to see--"
He was interrupted by shouts in the direction of the river.
"There she is!"
"She's floating down!"
"Let's get her!"
A number of cadets were thus crying out.
"Come on!" yelled Dick. "Something's happened! Maybe my motor-boat
THE ARMY AVIATORS
Dick, Paul and Innis set off at a quick pace toward the stream which
flowed at the foot of the broad expanse of green campus and parade
ground. As they hurried on they were joined by other cadets in like
"What is it?" asked the young millionaire.
"Don't know," was the answer. "Something happened on the river,
that's all I heard."
Dick and his chums were soon in a position to see for themselves,
and what they beheld was a curious sort of raft, with torn sails,
or so at least it seemed, floating down with the current. Then, as
the waters swirled about the odd craft, a piece, like the tail of
some great fish, arose for a moment.
"What in the name of Gatling guns is it?" asked Paul, wonderingly.
"It's the airship!" cried Innis. "My cousin's wrecked airship! It
must have been stuck in the mud, or held by some snag, and now it's
come to the surface. We ought to get it. He'll want to save it.
Maybe he can use part of the engine again, and he's out of funds to
buy a new one, I know."
"Besides, he wants to see if it had been tampered with by someone
so as to bring about an accident," suggested Paul.
"We'll get it!" cried Dick. "Come on! In my motor-boat!"
The speedy watercraft was in readiness for a run, and the three
cadets, racing down to her, soon had the motor started and the bow
of the boat pointed to the floating airship. The latter was moving
slowly from the force of the current, which was not rapid here. The
affair of wings, struts, planes and machinery floated, half
submerged, and probably would not have sunk when the accident
occurred except that the great speed at which it was travelling
forced it below the surface, even as one can force under a piece of
But the wood rises, and the buoyant airship would have done the
same, perhaps, save for the fact that it had become caught. Now it
"Make this rope fast to it," directed Dick, as he guided his
motor-boat close to the airship. "We'll tow it to the dock."
Paul and Innis undertook this part of the work, and in a few moments
the Mabel, Dick's boat, was headed toward shore, towing the wrecked
airship. A crowd of the cadets awaited with interest the arrival.
When the Mabel had been made fast to the dock, other ropes were
attached to the aircraft that floated at her stern, and the wrecked
biplane was slowly hauled up the sloping bank of the stream.
"Some smash, that!"
"Look at the planes, all bent and twisted!"
"But the motor is all there!"
"Say, she's bigger than I thought she was!"
Thus the young cadets commented on the appearance of the craft as
it was hauled out. Word had been sent to Mr. Vardon and his helper
to come and look at the salvaged wreck, and they were goon on the
scene, together with Larry Dexter, who, as usual, was always on hand
when there was a chance to get an item of news.
"I'll get another scoop out of this for my paper!" he exclaimed to
Dick. "Then I guess I'd better be getting back to New York. They
may want to send me on some other assignment, for it doesn't look
as though I'd do any more flying through the air in that machine."
"Say, don't be in too much of a hurry to go away," remarked Dick,
as he ceased from pulling on the rope attached to the wrecked
"Why not?" asked Larry. "What do you mean?"
"Well, you're not on any regular news stunt just now; are you?"
inquired Dick, of the young reporter. "That is, you don't have to
report back to the office at any special time."
"No," replied Larry. "I'm a sort of free lance. I'm supposed to
be learning how to run an airship so I can qualify, and get a
license, and be able to help out the paper on such a stunt if they
need me. They assigned me to this Mr. Vardon because it looked as
though he had a good thing. Now that it's busted I suppose I'll be
sent out with some other aviator, and I'd better be getting back to
New York and find out what the paper wants me to do."
"Well, as I said, don't be in too much of a hurry," went on Dick
with a smile.
"You talk and act as though there was something in the wind,"
"There is, and there's going to be something more in the wind soon,
or, rather, in the air," said Dick. "I might as well tell you, I'm
going to have an airship, and--"
"You are!" interrupted Larry. "Good for you! I'll give you a good
write-up when you make your first flight."
"I wasn't thinking so much of that," proceeded the young
millionaire. "But when I do get my airship I'd like to have you
make some flights with me. That might serve your end as well as
going with some other aviator, and you could be getting in the
practice that your paper wants for you."
"Fine and dandy!" cried Larry. "I'm with you, Dick. I'll send off
a wire at once, and let the managing editor know I'm going to get
right on the flying job again. This will be great!"
"I don't know that there'll be such an awful lot of news in it at
first," went on Dick, "for I've got to learn this art of flying,
and I don't expect to do any hair-raising stunts right off the reel.
"But, Larry, there may be other news for you around this Academy
"Yes. You probably heard what Mr. Vardon said about his machine
being tampered with."
"I sure did. And I think the same thing myself. It worked to
perfection the day before, and then, all at once, she turned turtle.
The gyroscope equilibrizer must have broken."
"Well, you can see what happened, for we've got her out of the water
now," said Dick. "And there may be more news when the army aviators
"Are they coming here? I hadn't heard. I've been so busy getting
straightened out after my plunge into the river."
"Yes, they're coming here to give us instructions, and there may be
all sorts of stunts pulled off. So you'd better stick."
"I will, thanks. But I'm mostly interested in your airship. It
sure will be great to take a flight with you. But there's Mr.
Vardon. I want to hear what he says."
The aviator, and his helper, who had almost fully recovered from
their narrow escape from death, were carefully examining the airship
which was now hauled out on a level spot in the campus, just above
the river bank. Eagerly the cadets crowded around the machine.
"Come here, Grit!" called Dick to his prize bulldog. "First you
know someone will step on you, and you'll just naturally take a
piece out of his leg. You don't belong in a crowd."
Grit came at the word of command, and Dick, slipping on the leash,
gave the animal in charge of one of the orderlies to be taken to
the stable. Grit whined and barked in protest at being separated
from his master, but Dick wanted no accidents.
"Do you find anything wrong?" asked Innis of his cousin, as the
latter went carefully over each part of the wrecked airship.
"Well, it's hard to say, on account of there being so many broken
places," was the answer. "The engine is not as badly smashed as I
expected, but it will take some time to examine and test the
gyroscope attachment. I shall remove it and set it up separately."
"Well, it's my opinion that it was monkeyed with, and done on
purpose, too!" declared Jack Butt. "And I could almost name the
fellow who did it. He was--"
"Hush! No names, if you please," interrupted the aviator. "We will
"All right, sir! Just as you say," grudgingly agreed the other.
"But if ever I get my hands on him--!"
Jack Butt looked rather vindictive, and probably with good reason.
For had he not been near to death; and, as he thought, through the
evil work of some enemy.
The wrecked aircraft was hauled to one of the barrack sheds, which
Mr. Vardon announced would be his temporary workshop for possible
The rest of that day, and all of the next, was spent by Mr. Vardon
in taking his wrecked machine apart, saving that which could be used
again, and looking particularly for defects in the gyroscope
stabilizer, or equilibrizer. Larry and Jack Butt helped at this
work, and Dick, and the other cadets, spent as much time as they
could from their lessons and drills watching the operations.
For the students were much interested in aviation, and, now that it
was known that the army aviators were to come to Kentfield, and that
Dick Hamilton, one of the best liked of the cadets, was to have a
big airship of his own, many who had said they would never make a
flight, were changing their minds.
It was one afternoon, about a week following the wrecking of Mr.
Vardon's machine, that, as the cadets in their natty uniforms were
going through the last drill of the day, a peculiar sound was heard
in the air over the parade ground.
There was a humming and popping, a throbbing moan, as it were, and
despite the fact that the orders were "eyes front!" most of the
cadets looked up.
And they saw, soaring downward toward the campus which made an ideal
landing spot, two big aircraft.
"The army aviators!" someone cried, nor was there any rebuke from
the officers. "The army aviators!"
"At ease!" came the order, for the commandant realized that the
students could hardly be expected to stand at attention when there
was the chance to see an airship land.
Then a few seconds later, the two craft came gently down to the
ground, undulating until they could drop as lightly as a boy's kite.
And, as they came to a stop with the application of the drag brake,
after rolling a short distance on the bicycle wheels, the craft were
surrounded by the eager cadets.
Casting aside the straps that bound them to their machines, the army
aviators leaped lightly from their seats. The big propellers, from
which the power had been cut off, as the birdmen started to volplane
to the ground, ceased revolving, and the hum and roar of the
powerful motors was no more heard.
In their big, leather helmets, and leather jackets, and with their
enormous goggles on, the birdmen looked like anything but
spick-and-span soldiers of Uncle Sam. But dress in the army has
undergone a radical change. The "fuss and feathers" are gradually
disappearing, and utility is the word. It was so in regard to the
aviators. They were not hampered by uniforms.
"Kentfield Military Academy?" inquired one of the officers,
evidently in command. He looked about for someone in authority.
"Kentfield Academy, sir," replied Colonel Masterly who had come up.
"I am in charge here," and he introduced himself. The army man, who
wore a captain's shoulder straps, saluted and remarked:
"I am Captain Grantly, in charge. That is Captain Wakefield, in
the other machine. With him is Lieutenant McBride, and my companion
is Lieutenant Larson. I presume you expected us?"
"Oh, yes," said Colonel Masterly, as he shook hands with the
visitors. "I'm sure we are all glad to see you."
Dick and his chums looked on with interest. The army aviators
seemed efficient and pleasant men--that is all but one. The first
sight he had of the face of Lieutenant Larson, after the latter had
removed his protecting helmet and goggles, made Dick say to himself:
"That fellow will bear watching! I don't like the look in his
But Dick said nothing of this to Paul or Innis. He made up his mind
he would learn their impressions later.
"We thought we might as well come on in the machines, as to have
them taken down, shipped here, and then have to assemble them again,
would take too much time," went on Captain Grantly. "Though we
expect, later, to give your students a practical demonstration in
how the biplanes are put together, so they may understand something
of how to make repairs.
"We came on from the nearest army aviation grounds, and had a most
successful flight. I must send back word to Major Dalton."
"Our telephone, or telegraph service, is at your disposal," said
Colonel Masterly. "If you will come with me--"
"Excuse me, but we carry with us our own means of communication,"
said Captain Grantly with a smile. "We are going on the assumption,
constantly, that we are in an enemy's country.
"Consequently we go prepared as though there were a state of war.
We shall communicate with our base by means of wireless."
"I am afraid we can't accommodate you there," went on the head of
the military school. "We are installing a wireless outfit, but it
is not yet completed," the colonel said.
"Oh, we carry our own!" was the unexpected retort. "Lieutenant
Larson, if you and Lieutenant McBride will get the balloon ready,
Captain Wakefield and myself will work out the cipher dispatch, and
"We use a code in our wireless," he went on to explain, "and it
takes a few minutes to make up the message."
"But I heard you speak of a balloon," said Colonel Masterly. "I
don't see how you carry one on your machine."
"Here it is," was the answer, and a deflated rubberized silk bag
was produced from a locker back of the pilot's seat. "This is the
latest idea in airship wireless," went on Captain Grantly, as he
directed the lieutenants to get out the rest of the apparatus. "We
carry with us a deflated balloon, which will contain about two
hundred cubic yards of lifting gas. The gas itself, greatly
compressed, is in this cylinder. There's enough for several
"We fill the balloon, and attach to it our aerial wires. The
balloon takes them up about four hundred feet--the wires weigh about
twenty pounds, I might say. Then we carry a light sending
instrument. It has a considerable range, though we can receive
messages from a much greater distance than we can send, as our force
for a sending current is limited."
As he was talking the others were working, and the cadets looked on
interestedly. The drill had been abandoned, and officers and
students crowded up near the army aviators to see what was going
With a sharp hiss the compressed gas rushed from the containing
cylinder into the deflated balloon. The silken sides puffed out,
losing their wrinkles. The balloon gradually assumed larger
"Ready with the wires?" asked Captain Grantly.
"All ready, sir," replied Lieutenant Larson. Dick now heard him
speak for the first time, and did not like his voice. There are
some persons who make a bad impression on you at the first meeting.
Often this may he unjustified, but Dick's first impressions were
The wires, forming the wireless aerial, were carried up on two light
spreaders, hanging down from a network that went over the balloon
bag. From the aerials depended the wires that were attached to the
receiving and sending apparatus. These wires were on a reel, and
would he uncoiled as the balloon arose. The earth-end would be
attached to the telephone receivers and to the apparatus, consisting
of a spark-gap wheel and other instruments designed to send into
space the electrical impulses that could he broken up into dots,
dashes and spaces, spelling out words according to the Morse or
Continental code--whichever was used.
Captain Grantly looked over everything. His assistants signified
that every connection was made.
"Send her up," ordered the commander, and as the catch, holding the
balloon, was released the spherical bag of gas shot into the air,
carrying with it the aerials, and unreeling the connecting wires.
Quickly it rose to nearly five hundred feet, and, when it had been
anchored, all was soon in readiness.
Meanwhile a code dispatch had been written out, and as it was handed
to Captain Wakefield, who was to operate the wireless, he began
depressing the key that made and broke the electrical current. The
current itself came from a small, but powerful, storage battery, and
it had been switched on. The current also set in motion a toothed
wheel of brass. This wheel revolved on its axis with the points,
or teeth, passing rapidly in front of a platinum contact point.
As each tooth thus came in opposition to the point, a blue spark of
electricity would shoot out with a vicious snap; that is if the
connection key were pressed down. If the key were not depressed no
I presume most of you understand how the wireless works, so I will
not give you a complete description save to say that it is just like
a telegraph system, in fundamentals. The only difference is that
no connecting metallic wires are needed between stations.
A group of wires in parallels, called "aerials," are hung in the
air at one point, or station, and a similar set is suspended at the
other station. The electrical current jumps through the air from
one group of wires to the other, without being directly connected,
hence the name "wireless," though really some wires are used.
The electrical impulse can be sent for thousands of miles through
the air, without any directly connecting wires. And the method of
communication is by means of dots, dashes and spaces.
You have doubtless heard the railroad or other telegraph instruments
clicking. You can hold your table knife blade between two tines of
your fork, and imitate the sound of the telegraph very easily.
If you move your knife blade up and down once, quickly, that will
represent a dot. If you move it more slowly, holding it down for
a moment, that would be a dash. A space would be the interval
between a dot and a dash, or between two dots or two dashes.
Thus, by combinations of dots, dashes and spaces, the letters of
the alphabet may be made and words spelled out. For instance a dot
and a dash is "A."
In telegraphing, of course, the operator listens to the clicking of
the brass sounder in front of him on the desk. But in wireless the
electrical waves, or current received, is so weak that it would not
operate the sounder. So a delicate telephone receiver is used.
This is connected to the receiving wires, and as the sender at his
station, perhaps a thousand miles away, presses down his key, and
allows it to come up, thus making dots, dashes and spaces,
corresponding clicks are made in the telephone receiver, at the ear
of the other operator.
It takes skill to thus listen to the faint clicks that may be
spelled out into words, but the operators are very skillful. In
sending messages a very high tension current is needed, as most of
it is wasted, leaping through the air as it does. So that though
the clicks may sound very loud at the sending apparatus, and the
blue sparks be very bright, still only faint clicks can be heard in
the head-telephone receiver at the other end.
"You may send," directed Captain Grantly to Captain Wakefield, and
the blue sparks shot out in a dazzling succession, as the spiked
wheel spun around. This was kept up for some little time, after the
receiving operator at the army headquarters had signified that he
was at attention. Then came a period of silence. Captain Wakefield
was receiving a message through space, but he alone could hear this
through the telephone receiver.
He wrote it out in the cipher code, and soon it was translated.
"I informed them that we had arrived safely," said Captain Grantly
to Colonel Masterly, "and they have informed me that we are to
remain here until further notice, instructing your cadets in the
use of the aircraft."
"And we are very glad to have you here," replied the commandant of
Kentfield. "If you will come with me I will assign you to
"We had better put away our biplanes, and haul down our wireless
outfit," suggested Captain Grantly.
"Allow me to assign some of the cadets to help you," suggested the
colonel, and this offer being accepted, Dick, to his delight, was
one of those detailed, as were Innis and Paul.
Giving his instructions to the two lieutenants, Captain Grantly,
with the junior captain, accompanied Colonel Masterly to the main
buildings of the Academy.
"Well, let's dig in, and get through with this job," suggested
Lieutenant Larson, in surly tones to his companion. "Then I'm going
to ask for leave and go to town. I'm tired."
"So am I, but we've got to tighten up some of those guy wires. They
are loose and need attention. They might order a flight any time,"
his fellow lieutenant said.
"Well, you can stay and tighten 'em if you like. I'm not," was the
growling retort. "I'm sick of this business anyhow! Let some of
the kids do the work."
"They don't know how," was the good-natured answer of Lieutenant
"There is a professional aviator here now," said Dick, as he
recalled Mr. Vardon. "We might get him to help you."
"I don't care," said Lieutenant Larson, as he began hauling down
the suspended balloon. "I only know I'm sick of so much work. I
think I'll go back into the artillery."
Dick and his chums naturally did not care much for the surly
soldier, but they liked Lieutenant McBride at once. He smilingly
told them what to do, and the boys helped to push the machines to
a shed that had been set aside for them. The wireless apparatus
was taken apart and stored away, the gas being let out of the
The work was almost finished, when Larry Dexter, with Mr. Vardon
and the latter's helper, Jack, came across to the sheds. They had
come to see the army airships.
By this time Lieutenant Larson had finished what he considered was
his share of the work, and was on his way to get a brief leave of
absence from his captain. At the entrance to the shed he came face
to face with Mr. Vardon and Jack.
"Oh, so you're the professional aviator they spoke of," said Larson,
with a sneer in his tone.
"Yes, I'm here," replied Mr. Vardon, quietly. "I did not expect to
see you here, though."
"The surprise is mutual," mocked the other. "I read about your
failure. I suppose now, you will quit fooling with that gyroscope
of yours, and give my method a trial."
"I never will. I am convinced that I am right, and that you are
"You're foolish," was the retort.
Jack Butt stepped forward and whispered in the ear of his employer,
so that at least Dick heard what he said.
"I believe HE did it!" were the tense words of the machinist.
DICK'S FIRST FLIGHT
Mr. Vardon gave his helper a quick and warning glance.
"Hush!" he exclaimed, as he looked to see if Lieutenant Larson had
heard what Jack had said. But the army man evidently had not. He
gave the machinist a glance, however, that was not the most pleasant
in the world. It was evident that there was some feeling between
the two. Dick wondered what it was, and what Jack's ominous words
Having put away the two biplanes, and requested the cadets to look
at them as much as they liked, but not to meddle with the apparatus,
the two lieutenants left the sheds, to report to their respective
captains. Mr. Vardon and his helper remained with Dick and his
"Very fine machines," said the aviator. "Compared to my poor pile
of junk, very fine machines indeed!"
"But part of yours is good; isn't it?" asked Dick. "You can use
part of it, I should think."
"Very little," was the hopeless reply. "The damage was worse than
I thought. My gyroscope attachment is a total wreck, and it will
cost money to build a new one."
"Yes, and that gyroscope was tampered with before we started on this
last flight!" declared Jack, with conviction. "And I'm sure HE did
it!" he added, pointing an accusing finger at the retreating form
of Lieutenant Larson.
"You must not say such things!" cried the aviator. "You have no
"I have all the proof I want as far as he is concerned," declared
Jack. "Maybe he didn't intend to kill us, or hurt us, but he sure
did want to wreck the machine when he tampered with the gyroscope."
"What is the gyroscope?" asked Dick.
"It is an invention of mine, and one over which Lieutenant Larson
and I had some argument," said Mr. Vardon.
"You probably know," the aviator went on, while Dick, Paul, and
Innis, with several other cadets, listened interestedly, "you
probably know that one of the great problems of aviation is how to
keep a machine from turning turtle, or turning over, when it strikes
an unexpected current, or 'air pocket' in the upper regions. Of
course a birdman may, by warping his wings, or changing the
elevation of his rudder, come out safely, but there is always a
chance of danger or death.
"If there was some automatic arrangement by which the airship would
right itself, and take care of the unexpected tilting, there would
be practically no danger.
"I realized that as soon as I began making airships, and so I
devised what I call a gyroscope equilibrizer or stabilizer. A
gyroscope, you know, is a heavy wheel, spinning at enormous speed,
on an anti-friction axle. Its great speed tends to keep it in
stable equilibrium, and, if displaced by outside forces, it will
return to its original position.
"You have probably seen toy ones; a heavy lead wheel inside a ring.
When the wheel is spinning that, and the ring in which it is
contained, may be placed in almost any position, on a very slender
support and they will remain stable, or at rest.
"So I put a gyroscope on my airship, and I found that it kept the
machine in a state of equilibrium no matter what position we were
forced to take by reason of adverse currents. Of course it was not
an entire success, but I was coming to that.
"In the biplane which was wrecked in the river I had my latest
gyroscope. It seemed to be perfect, and, with Jack and Harry, I
had made a number of beautiful flights. I even flew alone upside
down, and had no trouble.
"Before that I had made the acquaintance of Lieutenant Larson, who
is also an expert aviator. He worked for me before he went in the
army. He had his own ideas about equilibrium, and his plan, which
he wanted me to adopt, consists of tubes of mercury that can
automatically be tilted at different angles. I do not believe they
will ever work, and I told him so. I refused to use them, and he
and I parted, not the best of friends. He wanted his invention
exploited, but I refused to try it, as I thought it dangerous.
"When my gyroscope worked fairly well, I presume Lieutenant Larson
was professionally jealous. At any rate he, left me, and I am glad
"But he was around our workshop just before we made this last
flight!" insisted Jack. "He came in pretending he had left some of
his important drawings behind when he went away, but I noticed that
he hung around the airship a good bit. I saw him looking at, and
running the gyroscope, and I'm sure he did something to it that
caused it to fail to work, and so wrecked us."
"You should not say such things," chided Mr. Vardon.
"Well, I believe it's true," insisted Jack. "And you found
something wrong with the gyroscope, when you took it from the
airship; didn't you?"
"Yes, but that may have occurred in the wreck."
"No, that gyroscope began to act wrong before we started to fall,"
went on the helper. "I noticed it, and I believe that mean
lieutenant monkeyed with it. He wanted you to think your plans were
"I should dislike to believe that of anyone," spoke Mr. Vardon,
"Well, I'm going to keep my eye on him," said Jack. "He won't get
another chance at any of our machines."
It was a day or so after this conversation that Dick came upon his
chum Innis, talking to Mr. Vardon. They seemed very much in
earnest, and at Dick's approach the aviator strolled away. Innis
stood regarding him a moment, and remarked, in a low tone:
"What's the trouble?" asked Dick, quickly. "Has anything happened
"Yes, Dick, a whole lot of things!" replied Innis earnestly. "I
feel mighty sorry for him. You know how his airship was wrecked,
but that's only one of his troubles. He's practically lost every
cent he has in the world, and he's deeply in debt, for he borrowed
money to build his aircraft, and perfect his stabilizer. He's just
about down and out, poor chap, and he feels mighty blue, I can tell
"When you came up I was just trying to figure out a way to help him.
But I don't see how I can. My dad hasn't any too much money
himself, since some of his investments failed, or he'd pull my
cousin out of this hole. But, as it is, I don't see what's to be
done. And his gyroscope stabilizer will work, too, only he won't get
a chance to prove it, now."
Dick was silent a moment, and then he asked:
"Say, Innis, would it help your cousin any if he had a contract to
build airships, and could install his stabilizer on one of them?"
"Why, of course it would, Dick! That would be just the very thing
he'd want. But who'd give him such a contract, especially after
this accident? And he hasn't any money to back up his claims. In
fact he's a bankrupt. Nobody would give him such a chance."
"Yes, I think someone would," said Dick, quietly.
"Who?" asked Innis, quickly.
"I would. It's this way," the young millionaire went on. "I've
fully made up my mind to have an airship, since dad consented,
though I believe he's secretly laughing at me. Now the kind of
craft I want doesn't come ready made--it will have to be built to
"So why can't I contract with your cousin to make my airship for
me? I'd be willing to pay all expenses and whatever his services
were worth, so he could make some money that way. I'd a good deal
rather give him a chance on the work, than some stranger. Besides,
I like his idea of a gyroscope, and, even if he doesn't want to
build my craft, I'd like to arrange to buy one of his stabilizers.
Do yon think he would like to take the contract from me?"
"Do I?" cried Innis earnestly. "Say, he'll jump at the chance!
You try him, and see! Say, this is fine of you, old man!"
"Oh, nonsense! It isn't anything of the sort," protested Dick.
"I've got to have somebody build my airship, and I'd rather it would
be your cousin than anyone else."
"It's fine and dandy!" Innis exclaimed. "Come on; let's find him
and tell him. He needs something to cheer him up, for he's got the
blues horribly. Come along, Dick."
To say that Mr. Vardon was delighted to accept Dick's offer is
putting it mildly. Yet he was not too demonstrative.
"This is the best news I've heard in a long while," he said. "I
guess my cousin has told you I'm pretty badly embarrassed
financially," he added.
"Yes," assented Dick. "Well, I happen to have plenty of money,
through no fault of my own, and we'll do this airship business up
"I'd like you to get started at it as soon as you can, and as there
will be preliminary expenses, I'm going to advance you some cash.
You'll have to order certain parts made up, won't you?" he asked.
"Yes, I presume so," agreed the aviator.
"And, of course, I'll want your stabilizer on my craft."
"That's very good of you to say. It will give me a fine chance to
demonstrate it," said Mr. Vardon.
Later in the day, Dick, his chums, the aviator and Larry Dexter were
talking about some of the flights made in the army machines that
"Can you arrange to have a wireless outfit on my airship?" asked
the young millionaire, as an exchange of wireless talk had been a
feature of the exhibition that day.
"Oh, yes, that can easily be done," assented the birdman.
"Say, you're going to have a fine outfit!" complimented Paul.
"Might as well have a good one while I'm at it," answered Dick, with
a laugh. "I've got to make good on dad's account anyhow. I can't
stand him laughing at me. I wish I had my airship now."
"I'll start building it, soon," promised Mr. Vardon.
"I'll want it in time for the summer vacation," went on Dick. "I'm
going to spend a lot of time in the air."
"Why don't you make a try for the prize?" suggested Mr. Vardon.
"What prize?" Dick wanted to know.
"Why the United States Government, to increase interest in airship
navigation, and construction, especially for army purposes, has
offered a prize of twenty thousand dollars for the first flight from
the Atlantic to the Pacific, or from New York to San Francisco, by
an airship carrying at least three persons. Only two landings are
allowed during the flight, to take on gasolene, or make repairs.
Why don't you try for that?"
"What, me try for that prize in the first airship I ever owned!"
exclaimed Dick. "I wouldn't have the nerve! I guess the government
doesn't want amateurs in the trans-continental flight."
"It doesn't make a bit of difference," declared Mr. Vardon. "It is
going to be an open competition. And, let me tell you, amateurs
have done as much, if not more, than the professionals, to advance
and improve aviation. Why, as a matter of fact, we're all amateurs.
We are learning something new every day. The art, or business, of
flying is too new to have in it anything but amateurs. Don't let
that stop you, Dick."
"Well, I'll think about it," said the young millionaire.
Dick obtained some detailed information, and entry blanks for the
government prize contest, and a little later announced to his chums:
"Well, fellows, in view of what Mr. Vardon said about amateurs,
maybe I will have a try for that prize. It will give us an object,
instead of merely flying aimlessly about. And if I should win,
wouldn't I have the laugh on dad! Yes, I'll make a try for it!" he
"And we'll help you!" cried Paul.
"And I'll make a good story of it," promised Larry Dexter.
"I guess we'd better get the airship first," suggested Innis, dryly.
"Oh, I'll look after that," promised his aviator cousin.
The days that followed were busy ones at Kentfield Academy. A
course of instruction was arranged concerning the making and flying
of airships. In the former Mr. Vardon was the chief lecturer, as
he had had more practical experience in building the aircraft than
had either of the army captains.
But the army men had made a study of air currents, and the
management of biplanes and monoplanes, and were equal to Mr. Vardon
in this respect. And so the cadets looked on and listened, watching
the army aviators test their machines, run them over the starting
ground, and finally, by a tilting of the rudders, send the machines
up like big birds.
"Young gentlemen," announced Colonel Masterly after chapel exercises
one morning, "I have an important announcement to make. You have
been studying aviation for some time now, and it is necessary, if
you keep on with it, to have practical work. Therefore we have
decided that, taking turns, those cadets in this course will make
a flight, beginning with today. You will go up, one in each
aeroplane, with the two army officers, who will look after and
"I will now call for volunteers to make the first flight. Don't
all speak at once," added the colonel, with a grim smile.
There was a moment of breathless pause, and then, from where he sat,
Dick arose. With a salute he said:
"I'll volunteer, sir."
"Good!" came in whispered comment that the colonel did not try to
"And I'll also volunteer!" spoke Innis, quickly.
"So will I!" added Paul, and then several more announced their
That afternoon came around very quickly, it seemed. Out on the
starting ground were the two big machines, being looked over by the
army men. The cadets were drawn up in files.
"All ready, sir," announced Captain Grantly to Major Rockford. "The
first cadet will take his place."
"Dick Hamilton!" called the commandant, and our hero stepped forward
for his first airship flight.
A QUEER LANDING
"Now don't get nervous," said Captain Grantly to Dick, with a grim
smile, as the young millionaire took his seat in the place provided
for the third occupant of the biplane.
"Well, I'll try my best," answered Dick, smiling ruefully. "Am I
to do anything?"
"Not a thing," Captain Grantly assured him. "Just sit still; that's
Dick rather wished he could have gone in the other machine, for he
had no liking for the surly lieutenant with the captain. But Dick
had been assigned to this craft, and military rules prevailed at
Kentfield. You did as you were told without question.
Dick took his place, and watched with interest the operations of
Captain Grantly and his lieutenant. Whatever one thought of the
latter, personally, it must be admitted that he knew his business
when it came to airships. In some matters even his superior
officer, Captain Grantley, deferred to the judgment of Larson.
"You won't have to do a thing," went on the lieutenant to Dick.
"Just sit still, and, above all, no matter what happens, don't touch
any of the wheels or levers."
"No, that might wreck us," added the captain.
"We'll manipulate the machine, at the same time telling you, and
showing you, how to do it. In time you will run it yourself, with
us looking on, and I believe it is the intention of Colonel Masterly
to have you cadets finally operate a machine on your own
"I hope I may learn to do so," spoke Dick, for I'm going to have a
craft of my own."
"Are you indeed?" asked the captain, interestedly. "It's rather an
expensive pleasure--not like automobiling."
"Well, luckily or not, I happen to have plenty of money," said Dick.
"I'm going to have quite a large machine built."
Was it fancy, or did Lieutenant Larson look at Dick with peculiar
meaning in his rather shifty eyes. Dick, however, was too much
occupied in the coming flight to pay much attention to this.
"If you're going to have a machine, perhaps you're going to have a
try for the twenty thousand dollar prize," suggested Captain
Grantly, as he tested the gasolene and spark levers, and looked at
several turn-buckles which tightened the guy wires.
"Well, I have about decided to," answered Dick, looking over at the
other aircraft, in which Paul Drew was to make an ascent.
"Jove! I wish I had that chance!" exclaimed Larson. "I'm sure, with
my mercury balancer I could--"
"There you go again!" cried Captain Grantly. "I tell you your idea
is all wrong about that balancer! Wing warping is the only proper
"But that isn't automatic, and what is needed is an automatic
balancer or equilibrizer," insisted the lieutenant.
"Well, we won't discuss it now," went on the captain. "Are you all
ready, Mr. Hamilton?"
"All ready, yes, sir."
The captain and Lieutenant Larson took their places, one on either
side of Dick. Some of the orderlies at the Academy had been
detailed to assist in the start, holding back on the biplane until
the engine had attained the necessary speed.
There was an arrangement whereby the machine could be held in leash,
as it were, by a rope, and when the necessary pressure developed
from the propeller blades, the rope could be loosed from the
aviator's seat. But that attachment was not in use at Kentfield
The powerful motor hummed and throbbed, for a muffler was
temporarily dispensed with on account of its weight. Every
unnecessary ounce counts on an airship, as it is needful to carry
as much oil and gasolene as possible, and the weight given over to
a muffler could be more advantageously applied to gasolene, on the
Faster and faster whirled the big blades, cutting through the air.
The captain kept his eyes on a balance scale, by which was
registered the pull of the propellers.
"That's enough!" he cried. "Let her go!"
Dick felt the machine move slowly forward on the rubber tired
bicycle wheels over the grassy starting ground, gradually acquiring
speed before it would mount upward into the air.
Perhaps a word of explanation about airships may not be out of
place. Those of you who know the principle on which they work, or
who have seen them, may skip this part if you wish.
The main difference between a balloon and an aeroplane, is that the
balloon is lighter than air, being filled with a very light gas,
which causes it to rise.
An aeroplane is heavier than air, and, in order to keep suspended,
must be constantly in motion. The moment it stops moving forward
it begins to fall downward.
There are several kinds of airships, but the principle ones are
monoplanes and biplanes. Mono means one, and monoplane has but one
set of "wings," being built much after the fashion of a bird.
A biplane, as the name indicates, consists of two sets of planes,
one above the other. There are some triplanes, but they have not
been very successful, and there are some freak aeroplanes built with
as many as eight sets.
If you will scale a sheet of tin, or a thin, flat stone, or even a
slate from a roof, into the air, you will have the simplest form of
an aeroplane. The stone, or tin, is heavier than the amount of air
it displaces, but it stays up for a comparatively long time because
it is in motion. The moment the impulse you have given it by
throwing fails, then it begins to fall.
The engine, or motor, aboard an aeroplane keeps it constantly in
motion, and it glides along through the air, resting on the
atmosphere, by means of the planes or wings.
If you will take a clam shell, and, holding it with the concave side
toward the ground, scale it into the air, you will see it gradually
mount upward. If you hold the convex side toward the ground and
throw it, you will see the clam shell curve downward.
That is the principle on which airships mount upward and descend
while in motion. In a biplane there is either a forward or rear
deflecting rudder, as well as one for steering from side to side.
The latter works an the same principle as does the rudder of a boat
in the water. If this rudder is bent to the right, the craft goes
to the right, because of the pressure of air or water on the rudder
twisted in that direction. And if the rudder is deflected to the
left, the head of the craft takes that direction.
Just as the curve of a clam shell helps it to mount upward, so the
curve of the elevating or depressing rudder on an airship helps it
to go up or down. If the rudder is inclined upward the aeroplane
shoots toward the clouds. When the rudder is parallel to the plane
of the earth's surface, the airship flies in a straight line. When
the rudder is tilted downward, down goes the craft.
I hope I have not wearied you with this description, but it was,
perhaps, needful, to enable those who have never seen an aeroplane
to understand the working principle. One point more. A gasolene
motor, very powerful, is used to whirl the wooden propeller blades
that shove the airship through the air, as the propeller of a motor-
boat shoves that craft through the water.
Faster and faster across the grassy ground went the biplane
containing Dick Hamilton and the army officers. It was necessary
to get this "running start" to acquire enough momentum so that the
craft would rise, just as a heavy bird has sometimes to run along
the ground a few steps before its wings will take it up.
"Here we go!" suddenly exclaimed the captain, and as he raised the
elevating rudder the big craft slowly mounted on a slant.
Dick caught his breath sharply as he felt himself leaving the earth.
He had once gone up in a captive balloon at a fair, but then the
earth seemed sinking away beneath him. This time it seemed that he
was leaving the earth behind.
Higher and higher they went, and Dick could feel the strong wind in
his face. His eyes were protected by goggles, made of celluloid to
avoid accidents from broken glass in case of a fall, and on his head
he wore a heavy leather helmet, not unlike those used by football
players. He was strapped to his seat, as were the others, in case
the machine should turn turtle. The straps would then prevent them
from falling out, and give them a chance to right the craft.
For this can be done, and now some aviators practice plying upside
down to get used to doing it in case they have to by some accidental
shift of the wind. Some of them can turn complete somersaults,
though this is mostly done in monoplanes, and seldom in a biplane,
which is much more stable in the air.
"Feel all right?" asked Captain Grantly of Dick. He asked this,
but Dick could not hear a word, on account of the great noise of
the motor. But he could read the officer's lip motions.
"Yes, I'm all right," the young millionaire nodded back.
He was surprised to find, that, after that first sinking sensation
at the pit of his stomach, he was not afraid. He now felt a
glorious sense of elation and delight.
He was actually flying, or the next thing to it.
"We'll go a little higher," said the captain, as he elevated the
rudder a little more. The aeroplane kept on ascending. Dick looked
down. He did not feel dizzy as he had half expected. Far below him
were the buildings of Kentfield, and the green parade ground. But
what were those things like little ants, crawling over the campus?
Why the cadets, of course! They looked like flies, or specks. Dick
was ready to laugh.
On a level keel they now darted ahead at greater speed as Lieutenant
Larson turned on more gasolene. Then, when Dick had become a little
used to the novel sensation, they showed him how to work the
different levers. The motor was controlled by spark and gasolene