Dick Hamiliton's Airship
Howard R. Garis
Part 2 out of 5
exactly as is an automobile. But there was no water radiator, the
engine being an up-to-date rotating one, and cooling in the air.
The use of the wing-warping devices, by which the alerons, or
wing-tips are "warped" to allow for "banking" in going around a
curve, were also explained to Dick by means of the levers
You know that a horse, a bicyclist, or a runner leans in toward the
centre of the circle in making a curve. This is called "banking"
and is done to prevent the centrifugal force of motion from taking
one off in a straight line. The same thing must be done in an
airship. That is, it must be inclined at an angle in making a
And this is accomplished by means of bending down the tips of the
planes, pulling them to the desired position by means of long wires.
It can also he accomplished by small auxiliary planes, called
alerons, placed between the two larger, or main, planes. There is
an aleron at the end of each main wing.
Straight ahead flew the army men and Dick, and then, when the cadet
was more used to it, they went around on a sharp curve. It made the
young millionaire catch his breath, at first, for the airship seemed
to tilt at a dangerous angle. But it was soon righted and
straightened out again.
Suddenly a shadow seemed to pass over Dick's head. He looked up,
thinking it was a dark cloud, low down, but, to his surprise, it
was the other army craft flying above them.
"A race!" thought Dick, and he wondered how his chum Paul was
There was an impromptu race between the two aircraft, and then they
separated, neither one gaining much advantage. Back and forth they
went, over the school grounds, and then in circles. Dick was
rapidly acquiring knowledge of how to operate the big biplane.
"We'll go down now!" spoke the captain, though Dick could not hear
the words. The young millionaire made up his mind that he would
have a muffler on his airship, and also more room to move about.
He intended to make rather a long flight.
The deflecting rudder was tilted downward, and the descent began.
They were some distance out from the Kentfield grounds now, but were
headed for them on a long slant. Dick wondered if they would reach
At a nod from the captain, Lieutenant Larson reached up and shut off
the motor. The sudden silence was startling.
Dick understood what was to be done. They were to glide, or as it
is called "volplane" (pronounced vol-pla-nay, with the accent on
the last syllable) to the ground.
"I hope we make it safely," mused Dick. But it did not look as
though they had been near enough the landing place when the motor
was cut off. Dick saw the two army men glance rather apprehensively
at one another. Was something wrong?
Dick was sure of it a moment later when, as Captain Grantly pulled
the lever of the deflecting rudder toward him, there was a snapping,
"Lost control!" cried the captain. "Wire snapped! Look out,
Dick wanted to jump, but he knew that would be rash, as they were
still some distance above the ground.
"Can't you guide her?" asked Larson.
"No! We've got to land the best we can!" was the answer.
They were right over a little farm now, and seemed to be headed
directly for a small, low building.
"Something is going to smash!" thought Dick grimly.
The next moment the airship had come down on the roof of the low
farm building, crashing right through it, and a second later Dick
and his companions found themselves in the midst of a squealing lot
of pigs, that fairly rushed over them.
AT HAMILTON CORNERS
Instinctively, as he felt the airship falling, without being under
control, Dick had loosed the strap that held him to his seat. This
advice had been given as one of the first instructions, to enable
the aviator to leap clear of the craft as it struck.
But, in this case the landing had been such a queer one that there
was no time for any of the three to do the latter. Down on the roof
of the pig sty they had come, crashing through it, for the place was
old and rotten.
It was this very fact, however, that saved them from more serious
injuries than severe joltings. The roof had collapsed, had broken
in the middle, and the squealing porkers were now running wild.
Most of them seemed to prefer the vicinity of the spot near where
the three aviators were now tumbled in a heap, having been thus
thrown by the concussion.
"Get out of here, you razor-back!" cried Dick, as a pig fairly
walked over him. He managed to struggle to his feet, but another
pig took that, seemingly, as an invitation to dart between the legs
of the young millionaire, and upset him.
Dick fell directly back on the form of Captain Grantly, who grunted
at the impact. Then, as Lieutenant Larson tried to get up, he, too,
was bowled over by a rush of some more pigs.
But the two army officers, and Dick, were football players, and they
knew how to take a fall, so were not harmed. Fortunately they had
been tossed out on a grassy part of the pen, and away from the muddy
slough where the porkers were in the habit of wallowing.
"Get out, you brutes!" cried Dick, striking at the pigs with a part
of one of the pen roof boards. Then, with the army men to help him,
he succeeded in driving the swine out of their way. This done, the
aviators looked at one another and "took an account of stock."
"Are you hurt?" asked the captain of Dick, grimly.
"No, only bruised a bit. As the old lady said of the train that
came to a sudden halt because of a collision, 'do you always land
"No, indeed!" exclaimed the captain, as he looked at the ruin of
the shed, amid which the airship was. "This is my first accident
of this kind. The lever of the vertical rudder snapped, and I
couldn't control her. Luckily the roof was rotten, or we might have
"As it is, nothing seems to be much damaged," said the lieutenant.
"I wonder if we can fly back?"
"It is doubtful," the captain answered. "We'll try and get her out,
As they were climbing over the pile of broken boards to get a view
of the aeroplane, an excited farmer came rushing out of a barn, a
short distance away.
"Hey, what do you fellers mean--smashing down out of the clouds,
bustin' up my pig pen, and scatterin' 'em to the four winds?" he
yelled. "I'll have th' law on you for this! I'll make you pay
damages! You killed a lot of my pigs, I reckon!"
"I don't see any dead ones," spoke the captain, calmly. "It was an
"That's what them autermobile fellers says when they run over my
chickens," snarled the unpleasant farmer. "But they has t' pay for
'em all the same."
"And we are willing to pay you anything in reason," said the
Captain. "I don't believe we killed any of your pigs, however.
But the shed was so rotten it was ready to fall down of itself,
which was a good thing for us. How much do you want?"
"Well, I want a hundred dollars--that's what I want."
"The shed, when new, wasn't worth a quarter of that."
"I don't care!" snapped the farmer. "That's my price. Some of my
pigs may be lost for all I know, and pork's goin' t' be high this
year. I want a hundred dollars, or you don't take your old shebang
offen my premises. I'll hold it till you pay me."
The army officers looked serious at this. Clearly the farmer had
a right to damages, but a hundred dollars was excessive.
"I'll give you fifty, cash," said Dick, as he pulled out a roll of
bills. "Will that satisfy you?"
The farmer's eyes gleamed at the sight of the money. And, as Dick
looked at his companions, he caught a greedy glint in the eyes of
"It's wuth a hundred; smashin' my shed, an' all the trouble you've
caused me," grumbled the farmer. "But I'll take sixty."
"No you won't. You'll take fifty or you can bring a lawsuit,"
replied Dick, sharply. "I guess you know who I am. I'm Hamilton,
from the Kentfield Academy. Colonel Masterly buys some garden stuff
of you, and if I tell him--"
"Oh, shucks, give me the fifty!" cried the farmer, eagerly, as he
held out his hand for the money. "And don't you try any more tricks
like that ag'in!"
"We haven't any desire to," said Captain Grantly. "Now we'll see
if we can navigate."
"And I've got t' see if I kin get them pigs together," grumbled the
farmer, as he pocketed Dick's money.
"You can put in a requisition for this, I suppose," suggested the
lieutenant. "I don't know whether Uncle Sam ought to reimburse you,
or we, personally."
"Don't mention it!" exclaimed Dick. "I'm always willing to pay for
damages, though I suppose if my Uncle Ezra Larabee was here he'd
haggle with that farmer and make him throw in a pig or two for
"Who is Uncle Ezra Larabee?" asked the lieutenant, curiously.
"A relative of mine," answered Dick. "Rather 'close' as regards
"Is he rich?"
"Yes, quite wealthy, but you'd never know it. He lives in
Dankville, and he and my dog Grit never can get along together. He
hates Grit and I guess Grit doesn't love him. But shall we try to
get this machine out of the shed?"
"I guess it's the best thing to do, now that the pigs are out of
the way," agreed the captain.
And, while the farmer and his hired man were chasing after the
escaped pigs, the army officers and Dick began extricating the
airship. The splintered boards of the pig-shed were pulled to one
side, and then it was seen that, aside from a broken landing wheel,
little damage had been done. The engine was not harmed in the least
and the snapped wire that had prevented the rudder being set to make
a proper landing, was easy to splice.
"And, as we've got a spare wheel we can put that on and soon start
back," said the lieutenant.
"Say, this is getting off better than even in an automobile
accident," spoke Dick, with a laugh. "I didn't know you carried
"We do the wheels, as they are very light," the captain said. "Now
let's roll her out and see what we can do."
The smashed wheel was removed from the axle, and the spare one
substituted. The broken wire was repaired and the aeroplane was now
about the same as before. It was rolled to a level place, and the
motor tested. It ran perfectly.
The farmer, having collected all his pigs, and perhaps feeling
joyful because of the fifty dollars in his pocket, agreed to "hold
back" on the craft, to steady it until the necessary speed of the
motor had been attained. His hired man helped him.
Just as the captain was about to give the word to "let go" the other
airship was seen coming to look for the missing one. But there was
now no need of assistance, and, a moment later, Dick and his
companions again arose in the air.
A quick return was made to the Academy, those in the other airship
being informed, by a signal, that all was now right. When the story
of the queer landing was told, Dick was regarded as a hero by his
"Just think!" complained Paul, whimsically, "your first trip, and
you have an accident and you don't get so much as a scratch."
"Yes, but I got run over and knocked down by a pig," laughed Dick.
"I'll take the scratches, please. No more pigs!"
"And after that, are you still going to build an airship?" asked
"I sure am! It's the greatest sensation in the world--aviation!
I wouldn't miss it for a fortune. And I'm going to pull down that
twenty thousand dollar prize; don't forget that, fellows."
"Good luck!" wished Paul.
In the days that followed there were many more airship flights, but
no accidents of moment. Dick went up again several times, and at
last was allowed to run the aeroplane himself, with the captain and
lieutenant to coach him. Then only one officer went along, another
cadet being taken up with Dick.
And finally the day came when Dick was qualified to take the craft
up alone, with two other cadets. He had graduated as a pilot of
the air, and properly proud he was of the honor.
"All you want now is experience," said Captain Grantly, as Dick came
back after a successful flight with Paul and Innis. "And that takes
Dick's two intimate chums also qualified as amateur pilots, and a
number of other cadets were equally successful. The aviation course
at Kentfield was very popular.
Then came the end of the term, and the summer vacation was at hand.
The last drills and guard-mounts were held. The graduation
exercises were finished in a "blaze of glory." The Juniors gave a
gay dance, at which Dick and his chums met the pretty girls whom
they had seen at the dock that day.
"And now for Hamilton Corners!" cried the young millionaire, when
the Academy was formally closed for the term. "I want you fellows
to come out with me, and watch my airship being built."
Mr. Vardon had found he could not build for Dick at Kentfield the
craft he wanted. It would take too long, and there were not the
facilities. So he and his helper went to Hamilton Corners, to do
the preliminary work. Dick and his chums were to follow as soon as
school was over. Larry Dexter went back to New York, but promised
to join Dick in time for the flight for the big government prize.
"Well, Dad, how are you?" cried Dick, as he greeted his father at
the family mansion in Hamilton Corners.
"Fine, my boy! There's no use asking how YOU are, I can see you
"Did Vardon and Jack get here? Have they started work?" Dick wanted
"Yes, I did just as you asked me to in your letter. I let them have
the run of the place, and they've been busy ever since they came.
I hope you are successful, Dick, but, I have my doubts."
"I'll show you!" cried the cadet enthusiastically.
UNCLE EZRA'S VISIT
Dick and his father had much to talk about concerning the airship.
Dick explained his plans, and described the new stabilizer.
"Well, now that you have explained it to me, I don't see but what
it may be possible," said Mr. Hamilton, after carefully considering
the matter. "It isn't so much the expense, since you have your own
fortune, but, of course, there is the element of danger to be
"Well, there's danger in anything," agreed Dick. "But I think I
have a lucky streak in me,--after the way we came out of that
pig-pen accident," and he laughed.
"Yes, you were fortunate," conceded Mr. Hamilton. "But, don't take
too many risks, my son. Go in and win, if you can, but don't be
rash. I am still from Missouri, and you've got to show me. Now
I've got a lot of business to attend to, and so I'll have to leave
you to your own devices. You say Paul and Innis are coming on?"
"Yes, they'll be here in a few days and stay until the airship is
completed. Then they'll fly with me."
"Anybody else going?"
"Yes, Larry Dexter--you remember him?"
"Oh, sure! The young reporter."
"And I think I'll take Mr. Vardon along. We may need his help in
"A good idea. Well, I wish you luck!"
A large barn on the Hamilton property had been set aside for the
use of the aviator and his men, for he had engaged several more
besides Jack Butt to hurry along the work on Dick's new aircraft.
The order had been placed for the motor, and that, it was promised,
would be ready in time.
Dick, having had lunch, went out to see how his airship was
progressing. Grit raced here and there, glad to be back home again,
though he would probably miss the many horses and grooms at
Kentfield. For Grit loved to be around the stables, and the
hostlers made much of him.
"How are you coming on?" asked the young millionaire, as he surveyed
the framework of the big craft that, he hoped, would carry him
across the continent and win for him the twenty thousand dollar
"Fine, Dick!" exclaimed Mr. Vardon. "Everything is working out
well. Come in and look. You can get an idea of the machine now."
Dick Hamilton's airship was radically different from any craft
previously built, yet fundamentally, it was on the same principle
as a biplane. But it was more than three times as large as the
average biplane, and was built in two sections.
That is there were four sets of double planes, or eight in all, and
between them was an enclosed cabin containing the motor, the various
controls, places to sleep and eat, the cabin also forming the
storage room for the oil, gasolene and other supplies.
This cabin was not yet built, but, as I have said, it would be
"amidship" if one may use that term concerning an airship. Thus
the occupants would be protected from the elements, and could move
about in comfort, not being obliged to sit rigidly in a seat for
hours at a time.
"She's going to be pretty big," remarked Dick, as he walked about
the skeleton of his new craft.
"She has to be able to carry all you want to take in her," said the
aviator. "But she'll be speedy for all of that, for the engine will
be very powerful."
"Will she be safe?" asked Dick.
"As safe as any airship. I am going to incorporate in her my
gyroscope equilibrizer, or stabilizer, as you suggested."
"Oh, yes, I want that!" said Dick, in a decided tone.
"It is very good of you to allow me to demonstrate my patent on your
craft," the inventor said. "It will be a fine thing for me if you
win the prize, and it is known that my stabilizer was aboard to aid
you," he said, with shining, eager eyes.
"Well, I'm only too glad I can help you in that small way," spoke
Dick. "I'm sure your patent is a valuable one."
"And I am now positive that it will work properly," went on Mr.
"And I'll take precious good care that no sneak, like Larson, gets
a chance to tamper with it!" exclaimed Jack Butt.
"You must not make such positive statements," warned his chief.
"It may not have been Larson."
"Well, your machine was tampered with; wasn't it, just before we
sank into the river?"
"Yes, and that was what made us fall."
"Well, I'm sure Larson monkeyed with it, and no one can make me
believe anything else," said Jack, positively. "If he comes around
"He isn't likely to," interrupted Dick. "The army aviators were
sent to Texas, I believe, to give some demonstrations at a post
"You never can tell where Larson will turn up," murmured Jack.
Dick was shown the progress of the work, and was consulted about
several small changes from the original, tentative plans. He agreed
to them, and then, as it was only a question of waiting until his
craft was done, he decided to call on some of his friends at
Innis and Paul arrived in due season, and were delighted at the
sight of Dick's big, new aircraft, which, by the time they saw it,
had assumed more definite shape. Mr. Vardon and his men had worked
"And that cabin is where we'll stay; is that it?" asked Paul, as he
looked at the framework.
"That's to be our quarters," answered the young millionaire.
Paul was looking carefully on all sides of it.
"Something missing?" asked Dick, noting his chum's anxiety.
"I was looking for the fire escape."
"Fire escape!" cried Dick. "What in the world would you do with a
fire escape on an airship?"
"Well, you're going to carry a lot of gasolene, you say. If that
gets afire we'll want to escape; won't we? I suggest a sort of rope
ladder, that can be uncoiled and let down to the ground. That might
"Oh, slosh!" cried Dick. "There's going to be no fire aboard the--
say, fellows, I haven't named her yet! I wonder what I'd better
"Call her the Abaris," suggested Innis, "though he wasn't a lady."
"Who was he?" asked Dick. "That name sounds well."
"Abaris, if you will look in the back of your dictionary, you will
note was a Scythian priest of Apollo," said Innis, with a
patronizing air at his display of knowledge. "He is said to have
ridden through the air on an arrow. Isn't that a good name for your
"It sure is. I'll christen her Abaris as soon as she's ready to
launch. Good idea, Innis."
"Oh, I'm full of 'em," boasted the cadet, strutting about.
"You're full of conceit--that's what you are," laughed Paul.
Suddenly there came a menacing growl from Grit, who was outside the
airship shed, and Dick called a warning.
"Who's there?" he asked, thinking it might be a stranger.
A rasping voice answered:
"It's me! Are you there, Nephew Richard? I went all through the
house, but nobody seemed to be home."
"It's Uncle Ezra!" whispered Dick, making a pretense to faint.
"I've come to pay you a little visit," went on the crabbed old
miser. "Where's your pa?"
"Why, he's gone to New York."
"Ha! Another sinful and useless waste of money! I never did see
"He had to go, on business," answered Dick.
"Humph! Couldn't he write? A two cent stamp is a heap sight
cheaper than an excursion ticket to New York. But Mortimer never
did know the value of money," sighed Uncle Ezra.
Grit growled again.
"Nephew Richard, if your dog bites me I'll make you pay the doctor
bills," warned Mr. Ezra Larabee.
"Here, Grit! Quiet!" cried Dick, and the animal came inside,
looking very much disgusted.
Uncle Ezra looked in at the door of the shed, and saw the outlines
of the airship.
"What foolishness is this?" he asked, seeming to take it for granted
that all Dick did was foolish.
"It's my new airship," answered the young millionaire.
"An airship! Nephew Richard Hamilton! Do you mean to tell me that
you are sinfully wasting money on such a thing as that--on something
that will never go, and will only be a heap of junk?" and Uncle
Ezra, of Dankville, looked as though his nephew were a fit subject
for a lunatic asylum.
BUILDING THE AIRSHIP
Grit growled in a deep, threatening voice, and Uncle Ezra looked
around with startled suddenness.
"I guess I'd better chain him up before I answer you," said Dick,
grimly. "Here, old boy!"
The bulldog came, unwillingly enough, and was made secure.
"An--an airship!" gasped Uncle Ezra, as though he could not believe
it. "An airship, Nephew Richard. It will never go. You might a
good deal better take the money that you are so foolishly wasting,
and put it in a savings bank. Or, I would sell you some stock in
my woolen mill. That would pay you four per cent, at least."
"But my airship is going to go," declared the young millionaire.
"It's on the same model as one I've ridden in, and it's going to
go. We're sure of it; aren't we, Mr. Vardon?"
"Oh, it will GO all right," declared the aviator. "I'm sure of
that. But I don't guarantee that you'll win the prize money."
"What's that? What's that?" asked Uncle Ezra in surprise. He was
all attention when it came to a matter of money. "What prize did
you speak of?"
"Didn't you hear, Uncle Ezra?" inquired Dick. "Why, the United
States government, to increase the interest in aviation, and to
encourage inventors, has offered a prize of twenty thousand dollars
to the first person who takes his airship from the Atlantic to the
Pacific, or rather, from New York to San Francisco with but two
landings. I'm going to have a try for that prize!"
"Yes, and he's going to win it, too!" cried Paul.
"And we're at least going to share in the glory of it," added Innis.
"Twenty thousand dollars!" murmured Uncle Ezra. "Is it possible?"
"Oh, it's true enough, sir," put in Mr. Vardon. "The offer has been
formally made. I know several of my aviator friends who are going
to have a try for it. I intended to myself, but for the accident
in which my craft was smashed. Only for the kindness of your nephew
in engaging me on this work I don't know what I should be doing
"That's all right!" interrupted Dick, who disliked praise. "I'm
doing MYSELF as much a favor in having you build this airship as I
am YOU. I intend to have a good time in this craft, even if I don't
win the prize."
"Twenty thousand dollars," murmured Uncle Ezra again, slowly. "It's
an awful lot of money--an awful lot," he added in an awed tone of
The truth of the matter was that Uncle Ezra had nearly a million.
But he was very "close," and never missed a chance to make more.
"And do you intend to get the government prize in that--that
contraption?" he asked, motioning to the half-completed aeroplane.
"Oh, it isn't finished yet," explained Dick.
"When it is, it will be one of the finest aircraft in this, or any
other, country," declared Mr, Vardon. "I don't say that just
because I am building it, but because Mr. Hamilton is putting into
it the very best materials that can be bought."
"And we mustn't forget your stabilizer," laughed Dick.
"What's that?" Uncle Ezra wanted to know. Since hearing about the
twenty thousand dollar prize his interest in airships seemed to have
"The stabilizer, or equalibrizer, whatever you wish to call it, is
to keep the airship from turning over," explained Mr. Vardon, and
he went into the details with which I have already acquainted my
But it is doubtful if Uncle Ezra heard, or at least he paid little
attention, for he was murmuring over and over again to himself:
"Twenty thousand dollars! Twenty thousand dollars! That's an awful
lot of money. I--I'd like to get it myself."
From time to time Grit growled, and finally Uncle Ezra, perhaps
fearing that the dog might get loose and bite him, said:
"I think I'll go in the house for a while, Nephew Richard. Your
father is not likely to be home today, but as I have missed the last
train back to Dankville, listening to your talk about airships-
-foolish talk it seems to me--I will have to stay all night."
"Oh, certainly!" exclaimed Dick, remembering that he must play the
host. "Go right in, Uncle Ezra and tell the butler to get you a
lunch. I'll be in immediately."
"Well, I could eat a little snack," admitted the crabbed old man.
"I did think of stopping in the restaurant at the railroad depot on
my way here, and getting a sandwich. But the girl said sandwiches
were ten cents, and they didn't look worth it to me.
"I asked her if she didn't have some made with stale bread, that
she could let me have for five cents, but she said they didn't sell
stale sandwiches. She seemed real put-out about it, too. She
needn't have. Stale bread's better for you than fresh, anyhow.
"But I didn't buy one. I wasn't going to throw away ten cents.
That's the interest money on a dollar for two whole years."
Then he started back to the house.
"Isn't he the limit!" cried Dick, in despair. "He's got almost as
much money as we have, and he's so afraid of spending a cent that
he actually goes hungry, I believe. And his house--why he's got a
fine one, but the only rooms he and Aunt Samantha ever open are the
kitchen and one bedroom. I had to spend some time there once, as
I guess you fellows know, and say--good-night!" cried Dick, with a
"He seemed interested in airships," ventured Paul.
"It was the twenty thousand dollars he was interested in," laughed
Dick. "I wonder if he--"
"What?" asked Innis, as the young millionaire paused.
"Oh, nothing," was the answer. "I just thought of something, but
it's too preposterous to mention. Say, Mr. Vardon, when do you
expect our engine?"
"Oh, in about a week now. I won't be ready for it before then. We
can give it a try-out on the blocks before we mount it, to see if
it develops enough speed and power. But have you made your official
entry for the prize yet?"
"No, and I think I'd better," Dick said. "I'll do it at once."
Dick and his chums had their lunch, and then went for a ride in
Dick's motor-boat, which had been brought on from Kentfield. They
had a jolly time, and later in the afternoon returned to watch the
construction of the airship.
The building of the Abaris, as Dick had decided to call his craft,
went on apace during the days that followed. Uncle Ezra was more
interested than Dick had believed possible, and prolonged his stay
nearly a week. He paid many visits to the airship shed.
Mr. Vardon, and Jack, his right-hand man, and the other workmen
labored hard. The airship began to look like what she was intended
for. She was of a new model and shape, and seemed to be just what
Dick wanted. Of course she was in a sense an experiment.
The main cabin, though, containing the living and sleeping quarters,
as well as the machinery, was what most pleased Dick and his chums.
"It's like traveling in a first-class motor-boat, only up in the
clouds, instead of in the water," declared Innis.
"Toss over that monkey wrench; will you?"
"Say, who had the saw last?"
"I know I laid a hammer down here, but it's gone now!"
"Look out there! Low bridge! Gangway! One side!"
These, and many other cries and calls, came from the big barn-like
shed, where Dick Hamilton's airship was being constructed. Dick
himself, and his two chums, Innis Beeby and Paul Drew, had joined
forces with Mr. Vardon in helping on the completion of the Abaris.
"We've got to get a move on!" Dick had said, after he had sent in
his application to compete for the twenty thousand dollar government
prize. "We don't want to be held back at the last minute. Boys,
we've got to work on this airship ourselves."
"We're with you!" cried Innis and Paul, eagerly.
And so, after some preliminary instructions from Mr. Vardon, the
cadets had taken the tools and started to work.
It did not come so unhandily to them as might have been imagined.
At the Kentfield Military Academy they had been called upon to do
much manual labor, in preparation for a military life.
There had been pontoon bridges to build across streams, by means of
floats and boats. There had been other bridges to throw across
defiles and chasms. There were artillery and baggage wagons to
transport along poor roads. And all this, done for practice, now
stood Dick and his chums in good stead.
They knew how to employ their hands, which is the best training in
the world for a young man, and they could also use tools to
So now we find Dick, Paul and Innis laboring over the new airship,
in which the young millionaire hoped to make a flight across the
United States, from ocean to ocean.
"That's what I like to see!" exclaimed Uncle Ezra, as he came out
to the shed just before he started back for Dankville. "It does
young men good to work. Pity more of 'em don't do it. Hard work
and plain food is what the rising generation wants. I don't approve
of airships--that is as a rule," the crabbed old miser hastily
added, "but, of course, twenty thousand dollars is a nice prize to
win. I only hope you get it. Nephew Richard. I like to see you
work. I'm going back now. I'll tell your Aunt Samantha that you've
at last learned how to do something, even if it is only building an
"Don't you call my studies at Kentfield something, Uncle Ezra?"
"No sir! No, sir-ee!" cried the elderly man. "That's time and
money thrown away. But I see that you can do manual labor, Nephew
Richard, and if you really want to do useful work, and earn money,
I'd be glad to have you in my woolen mill. I could start you on
three dollars and a half a week, and you could soon earn more. Will
"No, thank you," said Dick. "Thank you just the same."
He had a vivid idea of what it might mean to work for his Uncle
Ezra. Besides, Dick's fortune was such that he did not have to
work. But he fully intended to, and he was getting a training that
would enable him to work to the best advantage. Just because he was
a millionaire he did not despise work. In fact he liked it, and he
had made up his mind that he would not be an idler.
Just now aviation attracted him, and he put in as many hours working
over his airship--hard work, too,--as many a mechanic might have
"Well, I'll say good-bye, Nephew Richard," spoke Uncle Ezra, after
walking about the big airship, and looking at it more closely than
would seem natural, after he had characterized it as a "foolish
piece of business."
"I'm sorry you won't stay until my father gets back," spoke Dick.
"I expect him tomorrow, or next day."
"Well, if I stayed I know my hired man would waste a lot of feed on
the horses," said Uncle Ezra. "And every time I go away he sits up
and burns his kerosene lamp until almost ten o'clock at night. And
oil has gone up something terrible of late."
"Well, I hope you'll come and see us again," invited Dick, as his
uncle started to go. "But won't you let me send you to the station
in the auto? It isn't being used."
"No, Nephew Richard. Not for me!" exclaimed Uncle Ezra. "You might
bust a tire, and then you'd expect me to pay for it."
"Oh, no, I wouldn't!"
"Well, then, there might be some accident, and I might get my
clothes torn. That would mean I'd have to have a new suit. I've
worn this one five years, and it's good for three more, if I'm
careful of it!" he boasted, as he looked down at his shiny, black
"Then you're going to walk?" asked Dick.
"Yes, Nephew Richard. There's grass almost all the way to the
station, and I can keep on that. It will save my shoes."
"But people don't like you to walk on their grass," objected Dick.
"Huh! Think I'm going to tramp on the hard sidewalks and wear out
my shoe leather?" cried Uncle Ezra. "I guess not!"
He started off, trudging along with his cane, but paused long enough
to call back:
"Oh, Nephew Richard, I got the cook to put me up some sandwiches.
I can eat them on the train, and save buying. The idea of charging
ten cents in the railroad restaurant! It's robbery! I had her use
stale bread, so that won't be wasted."
Dick hopelessly shook his head. He really could say nothing.
His chums knew Uncle Ezra's character, and sympathized with their
The cadets resumed work on the big airship. The framework of the
wings had been completed, and all that was necessary was to stretch
on the specially made canvas. The cabin was nearing completion,
and the place for the engine had been built. The big propellers had
been constructed of several layers of mahogany, and tested at a
speed to which they would never be subjected in a flight. The
bicycle wheels on which the big airship would run along the ground,
until it had acquired momentum for a rise, were put in place.
"I didn't just like those hydroplanes, though," said Dick, who had
added them as an after thought. "I think they should be made
"And I agree with you," said Mr. Vardon. "The only use you will
have for the hydroplanes, or wheel-pontoons, will be in case you
are compelled to make a landing on the water. But they should be
larger, or you will not float sufficiently high. Make them larger.
But it will cost more money."
"I don't mind that," returned Dick. "Of course I am not anxious to
throw money away, but I want to make a success of this, and win the
prize, not so much because of the cash, as to show how your
equilibrizer works, and to prove that it is possible to make an
airship flight across the continent.
"So, if bigger hydroplanes are going to make it more certain for us
to survive an accident, put them on."
"I will," promised the aviator.
Pontoons, or hydroplanes, in this case, I might state, were hollow,
water-tight, wooden boxes, so fitted near the wheels of the airship,
that they could be lowered by levers in case the craft had to
descend on water. They were designed to support her on the waves.
Several days of hard work passed. The aircraft was nearing
completion. The cabin was finished, and had been fitted up with
most of the apparatus and the conveniences for the trip. There were
instruments to tell how fast the Abaris was traveling, how far she
was above the earth, the speed and direction of the wind and
machinery, and others, to predict, as nearly as possible, future
In the front of the cabin was a small pilothouse, in which the
operator would have his place. From there he could guide the craft,
and control it in every possible way.
There was a sleeping cabin, fitted with bunks, a combined kitchen
and dining-room, a small living-room, and the motor-room. Of course
the latter took up the most space, being the most important.
In addition there was an outside platform, built in the rear of the
enclosed cabin, where one could stand and look above the clouds, or
at the earth below.
Gasolene and storage batteries furnished the power, and there was
plenty in reserve. Dick wanted to take no chances in his prize
The second day after Uncle Ezra's departure the motor for the
"Now for a test!" cried Dick, when the machine had been uncrated
and set up on the temporary base. The attachments were made, an
extra pair of trial propellers connected, and the power turned on.
With a roar and a throb, the motor started, and as Mr. Vardon
glanced at the test gages with anxious eyes he cried:
"She does better than we expected, Dick! We can cross the continent
with that engine, and not have to make more than two stops."
"Are you sure?" asked the young millionaire.
"Positive," was the answer.
Further tests confirmed this opinion, and preparations were made to
install the motor in the airship.
It was while this was being done that a servant brought Dick a
"Someone has called to see you," said the man.
"Who is it?"
"He says his name is Lieutenant Larson, formerly of the United
States Army, and he has important information for you."
"Larson!" exclaimed Dick in surprise. "I wonder what he wants of
"Will you see him?" asked Paul.
"I suppose I had better," said Dick, slowly. "I wonder what he
LARSON SEES UNCLE EZRA
Dick Hamilton had not been very friendly with Lieutenant Larson
during the aviation instruction at Kentfield. In fact the young
millionaire did not like the army officer. Added to this the
suspicion that Larson might have had some hand in tampering with
the stabilizer of Mr. Vardon's craft, did not make Dick any too
anxious to see the birdman.
And yet he felt that in courtesy he must.
"I'll go in the library and meet him," said Dick, to the servant
who had brought the message. "I don't care to have him out here,
where he might see my airship," Dick added, to his chums.
"I guess you're right there," agreed Paul.
"He might take some of your ideas, and make a machine for himself
that would win the prize," added Innis.
"Oh, well, I'm not so afraid of that," replied Dick, "as I intend,
after I complete my craft, and if she wins the prize, to turn my
plans and ideas over to the government, anyhow, for their use. But
I don't just like the idea of Larson coming out to the work-shed."
Mr. Vardon and his men were in another part of the big barn, and
had not heard of the arrival of the army man.
"How do you do?" greeted Dick, as he met Larson in the library.
"I'm glad to see you."
This was polite fiction, that, perhaps, might be pardoned.
"I don't want to trouble you, Mr. Hamilton," went on the lieutenant,
with a shifty glance around the room, "but I have left the army, and
have engaged in the building of airships.
"I recall that you said at Kentfield, that you were going to
construct one, and I called to see if I could not get the contract,"
Larson went on.
"Well, I am sorry, for your sake, to say that my craft is almost
completed," replied Dick. "So I can't give you the contract."
"Completed!" cried Larson, in tones that showed his great surprise.
"You don't mean to tell me you have undertaken the important work
of constructing an aeroplane so soon after coming from the military
"Well, I didn't want to waste any time," replied Dick, wondering at
the lieutenant's interest. "I'm going to try for the government
prize, and I wanted to be early on the job."
Larson hesitated a moment, and resumed:
"Well, then it is too late; I suppose? I hoped to get you to adopt
my plans for an aeroplane. But I have been delayed making
arrangements, and by resigning from the army.
"Perhaps I am not too late, though, to have you adopt my type of
equilibrizer. My mercury tubes--"
"I am sorry, but you are too late there," interrupted Dick.
"What type are you using?" the lieutenant cried, dramatically.
"The Vardon. I might say that Mr. Vardon is also building my
airship. It will contain his gyroscope."
"A gyroscope!" cried the former officer. "You are very foolish!
You will come to grief with that. The only safe form is the mercury
tube, of which I am the inventor."
At that moment Vardon himself, who wished to consult Dick on some
point, came into the room, not knowing a caller was there.
"I am sorry," went on the young millionaire, "but I am going to use
Mr. Vardon's gyroscope."
"Then you may as well give up all hope of winning the prize!"
sneered Larson. "You are a very foolish young man. Vardon is a
dreamer, a visionary inventor who will never amount to anything.
His gyroscope is a joke, and--"
"I am sorry you think so," interrupted the aviator. "But you
evidently considered my gyroscope such a good joke that you tried
to spoil it."
"I! What do you mean? You shall answer for that!" cried the former
lieutenant, in an unnecessarily dramatic manner.
"I think you know what I mean," replied Vardon, coolly. "I need
not go into details. Only I warn you that if you are seen tampering
about the Hamilton airship, on which I am working, that you will not
get off so easily as you did in my case!"
"Be careful!" warned Larson. "You are treading on dangerous
"And so are you," warned the aviator, not allowing himself to get
excited as did Larson. "I know of what I am speaking."
"Then I want to tell you that you are laboring under a
misapprehension," sneered the former officer. "I can see that I am
not welcome here. I'll go."
Dick did not ask him to stay. The young millionaire was anything
but a hypocrite.
"What did he want?" asked Mr. Vardon, when Larson had left.
"To build my airship. He evidently did not know that I had already
engaged you. He got a surprise, I think."
"He is a dangerous man, and an unscrupulous one," said the aviator.
"I do not say that through any malice, but because I firmly believe
it. I would never trust him."
"Nor shall I," added Dick. "I presume though, that he will have
some feeling against me for this."
"Very likely," agreed Mr. Vardon. "You will have to be on your
The young millionaire and the aviator then went into details about
some complicated point in the construction of the Abaris, with which
it is not necessary to weary my readers.
Larson must have recalled what Dick had told him about Uncle Ezra
being a wealthy man, for, as subsequent events disclosed, the
disappointed army officer went almost at once to Dankville. And
there he laid before the miserly man a plan which Uncle Ezra
eventually took up, strange as it may seen.
It was the bait of the twenty thousand dollar prize that "took," in
Larson had some trouble in reaching Mr. Larabee, who was a bit shy
of strangers. When one, (in this case Larson) was announced by Aunt
Samantha, Mr. Larabee asked:
"Does he look like an agent?"
"No, Ez, I can't say he does."
"Does he look like a collector?"
"No, Ez, not the usual kind."
"Or a missionary, looking for funds to buy pocket handkerchiefs for
"Hardly. He's smoking, and I wish you'd hurry and git him out of
the parlor, for he's sure to drop some ashes on the carpet that
we've had ever since we got married."
"Smoking in my parlor!" exclaimed Uncle Ezra. "I'll get him out of
there. The idea! Why, if any sun is let in there it will spoil the
colors. How'd you come to open that?" he asked of his wife,
"I didn't. But I was so surprised at havin' someone come to the
front door, which they never do, that I didn't know what to say.
He asked if you was to home, and I said you was. Then he said:
'Well, I'll wait for him in here,' and he pushed open the parlor
door and went in. I had it open the least mite, for I thought I saw
a speck of sun comin' through a crack in the blinds and I was goin'
in to close it when the bell rang."
"The idea! Sitting in my parlor!" muttered Uncle Ezra. "I'll get
him out of that. You're sure he ain't a book peddler?"
"He don't seem to have a thing to sell except nerve," said Aunt
Samantha, "and he sure has got plenty of that."
"I'll fix him!" cried Uncle Ezra.
But he proved to he no match for the smooth sharper in the shape of
"Did you want to see me?" demanded the crabbed old man.
"I did," answered Larson coolly, as he continued to puff away at
his cigar. "I came to offer you a chance to make twenty thousand
"Twenty thousand dollars!" Uncle Ezra nearly lost his breath, he
was so surprised.
"That's what I said! I'm in a position to give you a good chance
to make that much money, and perhaps more. If you will give me half
an hour of your time--"
"Look here!" interrupted Mr. Larabee, "this ain't no lottery scheme;
is it? If it is I want to warn you that I'm a deacon in the church.
I wouldn't go into any lottery unless I was sure I could win. I
don't believe in gambling. As a deacon of the church I couldn't
countenance nothing like that. No gambling!"
"This is not a gamble," Larson assured him. "It's a sure thing.
I'll show you how to make twenty thousand dollars!"
"I--I guess I'd better open a window in here, so we can see," said
Uncle Ezra, faintly. "That's quite a pile of money to talk about
in the dark," and to the horror of Aunt Samantha she saw, a little
later, the sun shamelessly streaming in on her carpet that had only
been treated to such indignities on the occasions of a funeral, or
something like that. The parlor of the Dankville house was like a
tomb in this respect.
UNCLE EZRA ACTS QUEERLY
Exactly what passed between Uncle Ezra Larabee and his caller, Aunt
Samantha never learned. She was so overcome at seeing the parlor
opened, that perhaps she did not listen sufficiently careful. She
overheard the murmur of voices, and, now and then, such expressions
as "above the clouds," "in the air," "twenty thousand dollars, and
"Gracious goodness!" she murmured as she hurried out to the kitchen,
where she smelled something burning on the stove. "I wonder what
it's all about? Can Ezra have lost money on some of his
investments? If he has, if it's gone up above the clouds, and in
the air, the way he's talking about it things will be terrible;
terrible! It will come nigh onto killin' him, I expect!"
She went back to listen again outside the parlor door, but could
make out nothing.
She did catch, however, her husband's expression of:
"Twenty thousand dollars! It's a pile of money! A heap!"
"Oh my!" she murmured faintly. "If he's lost that we'll go to the
But nothing like that happened. As a matter of fact Uncle Ezra
could have lost that sum several times over, and not have felt it
except in the anguish of his mind.
When the caller had gone, Uncle Ezra seemed rather cheerful, much
to the amazement of Aunt Samantha. She could not understand it.
At the same time her husband appeared to he worried about something.
"But he doesn't act as though he had lost a lot of money," his wife
reasoned. "He certainly acts queer, but not just that way. I
wonder what it can be?"
And during the next week Uncle Ezra acted more queerly than ever.
He received several other visits from the strange man who had given
his name to Aunt Samantha, when first calling, as "Lieutenant
Larson." Also, Mr. Larabee went off on several short trips.
"I wonder whatever's got into him?" mused Aunt Samantha. "I never
knew him to act this way before. I do hope he isn't doing anything
If she had only known!
Uncle Ezra became more and more engrossed with his caller who came
several days in succession. They were shut up together in the
parlor, and one window shutter was opened each time, to the horror
of Mrs. Larabee.
"That carpet will be faded all out, and clean ruined," she
complained to her husband.
"Well, if it is, maybe I'll get money enough to buy a new one," said
Uncle Ezra. "Mind, I'm not saying for sure," he added, cautiously,
"Why, how you talk!" cried Aunt Samantha. "That carpet ought to
last us until we die! A new carpet! I never heard tell of such a
thing! Never in all my born days! The idea!"
Uncle Ezra chuckled grimly. It was clear that he was acting in a
new role, and he was a surprise, even to himself.
At last Aunt Samantha could stand the suspense no longer. One
night, after a rather restless period, she awakened Uncle Ezra who
had, most unusually, been talking in his sleep.
"Ezra! Ezra! Wake up!" she demanded in a loud whisper, at the same
time vigorously shaking him.
"Eh! What is it? Burglars?" he asked, sitting up in bed.
"No, Ezra. Nothin' like that!"
"Oh, cats, eh? Well, if it's only cats go to sleep. I don't mind
"No, Ezra, I didn't say cats. But you're talkin' in your sleep.
That is, you were."
"What'd I say?" and he seemed anxious.
"Why you were talkin' a lot about flyin' in the air, and goin' up
to the clouds, and bein' in a race, and winnin' twenty thousand
dollars! Oh, Ezra, if you care for me at all, tell me what mystery
this is!" she pleaded.
"Did I say all that?" he asked, scratching his head.
"Yes, and a lot more! You said something about an airship."
"Humph! Well, that's it!"
"An airship! I might as well tell you, I reckon. I'm having one
of them contraptions made."
"What contraptions? Oh, Ezra!"
"An airship," he answered. "I'm going to have one, and win a twenty
thousand dollar prize from the government. Then I'll go into the
airship business and sell 'em. I'll get rich, Samantha!"
"Oh Ezra! Do you mean to say you're goin' in for any such
foolishness as that?"
"'Tis so! And--and are you--are you goin' to go up in one of them
"Well, I reckon I might. It's my machine, and I'm not going to let
them aviary fellers monkey too much with it unless I'm on board.
They might bust something, and want me to pay for it. Yes, I reckon
I'll do some flying myself."
"Ezra Larabee!" cried his horror-stricken wife. "Be you plumb
"I hope not, Samantha."
"But goin' up in an airship! Why it's flyin' in the face of
"Well, it'll be flying in the air, at the same time," he chuckled.
Clearly this was a different Uncle Ezra than his wife had ever
known. She sighed.
"The idea!" Aunt Samantha murmured. "Goin' up in an airship.
You'll fall and be killed, as sure as fate."
"That's what I was afraid of first," said Uncle Ezra, "and I didn't
want to go into the scheme. But this young feller, Lieutenant
Larson, he proved to me different. They can't fall. If your engine
stops all you got to do is to come down like a feather. He used
some funny word, but I can't think of it now. But it's safe--it's
safer than farming, he claims. Most any time on a farm a bull may
gore you, or a threshing engine blow up. But there's nothing like
that in an airship.
"Besides, think of the twenty thousand dollars I'm going to get,"
he added as a final argument.
"You're not sure of it," objected his wife.
"Oh, yes I be!" he boasted. "Then I'm going into the airship
business. Well, now I've told you, I'm going to sleep again."
"As if anyone could sleep after hearin' such news," she sighed. "I
jest know suthin' will happen! And think what everybody will say
about you! They'll say you're crazy!"
"Let 'em!" he replied, tranquilly. "They won't say so when I get
that twenty thousand dollars!"
"But can't you get the money any easier way?" she wanted to know.
"How, I'd like to know? All I got to do to get this, is to get an
airship to fly from New York to San Francisco."
"Why Ezra Larabee!" she exclaimed. "Now I'm sure you're not right
in your head. You'll have the doctor in the mornin'."
"Oh, no, I won't!" he declared. "Don't catch me wasting any money
on doctors. I'm all right."
How Aunt Samantha managed to get to sleep again she never knew.
But she did, though her rest was marred by visions of airships and
balloons turning upside down and spilling Mr. Larabee all over the
Mrs. Larabee renewed her objections in the morning, but her husband
was firm. He had decided to have an airship built to compete for
the big prize, and Larson was going to do the work.
Just what arguments the aviator had used to win over Uncle Ezra none
but he himself knew. I rather think it was the harping constantly
on the twenty thousand dollar prize.
That Mr. Larabee was hard to convince may easily be imagined. In
fact it was learned, afterward, that the lieutenant almost gave up
the attempt at one time. But he was persistent, to gain his own
ends at least, and talked earnestly. Finally Uncle Ezra gave a
rather grudging consent to the scheme, but he stipulated that only
a certain sum be spent, and that a comparatively small one.
To this the lieutenant agreed, but I fancy with a mental reservation
which meant that he would get more if he could.
At any rate preparations for building the craft, in an unused part
of Uncle Ezra's woolen mill at Dankville, went on apace.
I say apace, and yet I must change that. Uncle Ezra, with his usual
"closeness" regarding money, rather hampered Larson's plans.
"What do you reckon an airship ought to cost?" Mr. Larabee had asked
when he first decided he would undertake it.
"Oh, I can make a good one for three thousand dollars," had been
the answer of the former lieutenant.
"Three thousand dollars!" whistled Uncle Ezra. "That's a pot of
"But you'll get twenty thousand dollars in return."
"That's so. Well, go ahead. I guess I can stand it." But it was
not without many a sigh that the crabbed old man drew out the money
from the bank, in small installments.
The work was started, but almost at once Larson demanded more than
the original three thousand. Uncle Ezra "went up in the air," so
"More money!" he cried. "I shan't spend another cent!"
"But you'll have to. We want this airship to win the prize, and
get ahead of the one your nephew is building. I have decided on
some changes, and they will cost money."
Uncle Ezra sighed--and gave in. The truth was that Larson was
little better than a sharper, and, though he did know something
about aeroplanes, he knew more about how to fleece his victims.
And though Uncle Ezra furnished more money he tried to save it in
other ways. He skimped on his table, until even Aunt Samantha, used
as she was to "closeness," objected. Then Mr. Larabee announced a
cut in wages at his factory, and nearly caused a strike.
But he was firm, and by reducing the pittance earned by the luckless
operatives he managed to save a few hundred dollars which promptly
went into the airship--that is, what Larson did not keep for
But Uncle Ezra's airship was being built, which fact, when it became
known, caused much comment. No one save Uncle Ezra and the
lieutenant and his workmen, were allowed in the factory where the
machine was being constructed. It was to be kept a secret as to the
form of construction.
Meanwhile, having committed himself to becoming an aviator, Mr.
Larabee began to study the methods of birdmen. He obtained several
volumes (second hand, of course) on the history of navigating the
air, and on the advance in the construction of aeroplanes. These
he read diligently.
He could also have been observed going about, gazing up into the
clouds, as though he was calculating from how great a height a man
could fall with safety. In reality he imagined he was studying air
Uncle Ezra Larabee was certainly acting most queerly, and his
friends, or, rather, his acquaintances, for he had no real friends,
did not know what to make of him. He did not give up his idea,
however, not even when Larson raised his original estimate to five
"Petrified polecats!" cried Uncle Ezra. "You'll bankrupt me, man!"
"Oh, no," answered Larson, with a winning smile. "This is getting
off cheap. I want to increase the size of my mercury stabilizer to
render the airship more safe for you when you go after that twenty
"Well, I s'pose I've got to," sighed Uncle Ezra, and he made a
careful note of how much had already been spent. "There's three
thousand, nine hundred twenty-eight dollars and fourteen cents
you've had so far," he reminded the lieutenant. "Don't be
"I won't," was the promise, easily given at least.
THe TRIAL FLIGHT
"All ready now; take her out!"
"Yes, and look out for the side wings! That doorway isn't any too
"No. We'll have to cut some off, I guess!"
"Say, it's big; isn't it?"
These were the comments of Dick Hamilton and his chums as the fine,
new airship, the Abaris, was wheeled out of the shed where it had
been constructed. And certainly the young millionaire might be
proud of his newest possession. Mr. Vardon and his men had labored
well on the aeroplane.
It was rather a tight squeeze to get the big craft out of the barn
doors, wide as they were, but it was successfully accomplished, and
the craft now stood on a level stretch of grass, ready for her first
Save for a few small details, and the stocking and provisioning of
the craft in preparation for the trip across the continent,
everything had been finished. The big motor had been successfully
tested, and had developed even more power than had been expected.
The propellers delivered a greater thrust on the air than was
actually required to send the Abaris along.
"We'll have that for emergencies," said Dick. "Such as getting
about in a hurricane, and the like."
"I hope we don't get into anything like that," remarked Mr. Vardon,
"but if we do, I think we can weather it."
"How does the gyroscope stabilizer work?" asked Paul, who with
Innis, had made Dick's house his home while the airship was being
"It does better than I expected," replied the inventor. "I was a
bit doubtful, on account of having to make it so much larger than
my first model, whether or not it would operate. But it does,
perfectly,--at least it has in the preliminary tests. It remains
to be seen whether or not it will do so when we're in the air, but
I trust it will."
"At any rate, Larson hasn't had a chance to tamper with it," said
Jack Butt, grimly.
"No, he hasn't been around," agreed Dick. "I wonder what has become
As yet the young millionaire knew nothing of the plans of his Uncle
Ezra, for he had been too busy to visit his relatives in Dankville.
"Well, let's wheel her over to the starting ground," proposed Dick,
as they stood around the airship. A level stretch had been prepared
back of the barn, leading over a broad meadow, and above this the
test flight would be made, as it offered many good landing places.
The airship was so large and heavy, as compared with the ordinary
biplane, that a team of horses was used to pull it to the starting
place. But heavy as it necessarily had to be, to allow the enclosed
cabin to be carried, the young millionaire and his aviator hoped
that the power of the motor would carry them aloft and keep them
"Go ahead!" cried Dick, as the team was hitched to the long rope
made fast to the craft. "Take it easy now, we don't want an
accident before we get started. Grit, come back here! This is
nothing to get excited over," for the bulldog was wildly racing here
and there, barking loudly. He did not understand the use of the
big, queer-looking machine.
"Well, I'm just in time, I see!" exclaimed a voice from the
direction of the house. Dick turned and cried:
"Hello, Larry, old man. I'm glad you got here. I was afraid you
wouldn't," and he vigorously shook hands with the young reporter,
who also greeted the other cadets. Grit leaped joyfully upon him,
for he and Larry were great friends.
"Going to take her up, Dick? " asked Larry Dexter.
"Going to try," was the cautious answer.
"Want to take a chance?"
"I sure do! It won't be the first chance I've taken. And I may
get a good story out of this. Got orders from the editor not to
let anything get away from me."
"Well, I hope you have a success to report, and not a failure,"
"Same here," echoed Beeby.
When the airship had been hauled to the edge of the starting ground,
a smooth, hard-packed, level space, inclining slightly down grade,
so as to give every advantage, a careful inspection was made of
every part of the craft.
As I have explained, all the vital parts of the Abaris were in the
enclosed cabin, a unique feature of the airship. In that, located
"amid-ships," was the big motor, the various controls, the living,
sleeping and dining-rooms and storage compartments for oil, gasolene
and supplies. Naturally there was no excess room, and quarters were
almost as cramped as on a submarine, where every inch counts.
But there was room enough to move about, and have some comfort. On
an enclosed platform back of the cabin there was more space. That
was like an open deck, and those on it would be protected from the
fierce rushing of the air, by means of the cabin. This cabin, I
might add, was built wedge-shaped, with the small part pointing
ahead, to cut down the air resistance as much as possible.
The big propellers were of course outside the cabin, and in the
rear, where was located the horizontal rudder, for guiding the craft
to right or left. At the rear was also an auxiliary vertical
rudder, for elevating or lowering the craft. The main elevation
rudder was in front, and this was of a new shape, never before used,
as far as Mr. Vardon knew.
There was another feature of the Abaris that was new and one which
added much to the comfort and safety of those aboard her. This had
to do with the starting of the motor and the operation of the big
In most aeroplanes, whether of the single or double type, the
propeller, or propellers, are directly connected to the motor. In
some monoplanes the motor, especially the Gnome, itself rotates,
carrying the blades with it. In biplanes, such as the Burgess,
Wright or Curtiss, it is the custom to operate the propellers
directly from the motor, either by means of a shaft, or by sprocket
But, in any case, the starting of the engine means the whirling of
the propellers, for they are directly connected. This is why, when
once the engine stops in mid-air, it can not be started again. Or
at least if it is started it is mostly a matter of chance in getting
it to go under compression or by the spark. There is no chance for
the aviator to get out and whirl the propellers which are, in a
measure, what a flywheel is to an automobile.
Also that is why the aviator has to be in his seat at the controls,
and have some other person start his machine for him, by turning
over the propeller, or propellers until the motor fires.
Lately however, especially since the talk of the flight across the
Atlantic, a means has been found to allow the aviator, or some
helper with him, to start the engine once it has stalled in midair.
This is accomplished by means of a sprocket chain gear and a crank
connected to the engine shaft. The turning handle is within reach
of the aviator.
But Mr. Vardon, and Dick, working together, had evolved something
better than this. Of course in their craft, with space to move
about in the cabin, they had an advantage over the ordinary aviator,
who, in case of engine trouble, has no place to step to to make an
But Dick's engine was not directly connected to the propellers.
There was a clutch arrangement, so that the motor could be started,
with the propellers out of gear, and they could be "thrown in," just
as an automobile is started. This gave greater flexibility, and
also allowed for the reversing of the propellers to make a quick
And it was not necessary for Dick to "crank" his motor. An electric
self-starter did this for him, though in case of emergency the
engine could be started by hand.
In fact everything aboard the Abaris was most up-to-date, and it was
on this that Dick counted in winning the big prize.
"Well, I guess everything is as ready as it ever will be," remarked
the young millionaire, as he and the aviator made a final inspection
of the craft. "Get aboard, fellows!"
"He's as cheerful about it as though he were inviting us to a
hanging," laughed Paul.
"Oh, I'm not worrying about any accident," said Dick quickly. "I'm
only afraid we've made her too big and won't get any speed out of
her. And speed is what's going to count in this trans-continental
"She'll be speedy enough," predicted Mr. Vardon, with a confident
Paul, Innis, Larry and Mr. Vardon entered the cabin. Then Dick went
in, followed by Jack Butt, who remained to tighten a guy wire that
was not just to his satisfaction.
"Well, are we all here?" asked Dick, looking around.
"Yes," answered Paul, and there was a note of quiet apprehension in
his voice. Indeed it was rather a risk they were all taking, but
they had confidence in Mr. Vardon.
"Let her go," said Dick to the aviator.
"No, you have the honor of starting her, Mr. Hamilton," insisted
Mr. Vardon, motioning to the electrical apparatus.
"All right! Here goes," announced the wealthy youth, as he pressed
the starting handle. Everyone was on the alert, but nothing
happened. The motor remained "dead."
"What's the trouble?" asked Dick.
"You've always got to turn that switch first, before you turn the
starting handle," explained Jack.
"Oh, sure! How stupid of me!" cried Dick. "And I've started it in
practice a score of times. Well, now, once more."
This time, when the switch had been thrown, the motor started at
once with a throbbing roar. Faster and faster it rotated until the
whole craft trembled. There was considerable noise, for the muffler
was not fully closed. Dick wanted to warm-up the machinery first.
"That'll do!" shouted Mr. Vardon, who was watching the gage that
told the number of revolutions per minute. "Throw in your clutch!"
"Now to see if she'll rise or not," murmured Dick. He pulled the
lever that closed the muffler, thus cutting down, in a great
measure, the throb of the motor. Then, with a look at his chums,
he threw in the clutch. The great propellers began to revolve, and
soon were flying around on their axles with the swiftness of light.
Slowly the Abaris moved forward along the ground.
"We're off!" cried Paul, excitedly.
"Not quite yet," answered Dick. "I want more power than we've got
He had it, almost in a moment, for the airship increased her speed
across the slightly downward slope. Faster and faster she rolled
along on the rubber-tired wheels.
"Now!", cried Dick, with his hand on the lever of the elevating
rudder. "Look out for yourselves, fellows!"
He gave a backward pull. A thrill seemed to go through the whole
craft. Her nose rose in the air. The forward wheels left the
ground. Then the back ones tilted up.
Up shot the Abaris at an easy angle. Up and up! Higher and higher!
"We're doing it!" cried Dick, as he looked from the pilot house
window to the earth fast falling below him. "Fellows, she's a
success! We're going up toward the clouds!"
That Dick was proud and happy, and that Mr. Vardon and the chums of
the young millionaire were pleased with the success of the airship,
scarcely need be said. There was, for the first few moments,
however such a thrill that scarcely any one of them could correctly
analyze his feelings.
Of course each one of them had been in an aeroplane before. Mr.
Vardon and his helper had made many flights, not all of them
successful, and Dick and his fellow cadets had gone up quite often,
though they were, as yet, only amateurs. Larry Dexter was perhaps
less familiar with aeroplanes than any of them, but he seemed to
take it as a matter of course.
"Say, this is great! Just great!" cried Dick, as he slipped the
lever of the elevating rudder into a notch to hold it in place. He
intended going up considerably higher.
"It sure is great, old man!" cried Paul. "I congratulate you."
"Oh, the praise belongs to Mr. Vardon," said Dick, modestly. "I
couldn't have done anything without him."
"And if it hadn't been for your money, I couldn't have done
anything," declared the aviator. "It all worked together."
"Say, how high are you going to take us?" asked Innis.
"Not getting scared, are you?" asked Dick, with a glance at the
barograph, to ascertain the height above the earth. "We're only up
about two thousand feet. I want to make it three." He looked at
Mr. Vardon for confirmation.
"Three thousand won't be any too much," agreed the aviator. "She'll
handle better at that distance, or higher. But until we give her
a work out, it's best not to get too high."
The big propellers were whirling more and more rapidly as the motor
warmed-up to its work. The craft was vibrating with the strain of
the great power, but the vibration had been reduced to a minimum by
means of special spring devices.
"Now we'll try a spiral ascent," said Dick, as he moved the lever
of the horizontal rudder. The Abaris responded instantly, and began
a spiral climb, which is usually the method employed by birdmen.
They also generally descend in spirals, especially when volplaning.
Up and up went the big aircraft. There was a section of the cabin
floor made of thick transparent celluloid, and through this a view
could be had of the earth below.
"We're leaving your place behind, Dick," said Paul, as he noted the
decreasing size of the home of the young millionaire.
"Well, we'll come back to it--I hope," Dick answered. "Don't you
fellows want to try your hand at steering?"
"Wait until you've been at it a while, and see how it goes,"
suggested Innis. "We don't want to wreck the outfit."
But the Abaris seemed a stanch craft indeed, especially for an
"Say, this is a heap-sight better than sitting strapped in a small
seat, with the wind cutting in your face!" exclaimed Larry, as he
moved about the enclosed cabin.
"It sure is mighty comfortable--the last word in aeroplaning, just
as Dick's touring car was in autoing," declared Paul, who had taken
a seat at a side window and was looking out at some low-lying
"All we want now is a meal, and we'll be all to the merry!" Dick
"A meal!" cried Larry. "Are you going to serve meals aboard here?"
"Yes, and cook 'em, too," answered the young millionaire. "Paul,
show Larry where the galley is," for the reporter had not called at
Hamilton Corners in some time, and on the last occasion the airship
had been far from complete.
"Say, this is great!" Larry cried, as he saw the electrical
appliances for cooking. "This is the limit! I'm glad I came
"We won't stop to cook now," said Mr. Vardon. "I want to see the
various controls tested, to know if we have to make any changes.
Now we'll try a few evolutions."
In order that all aboard might become familiar with the workings of
the machinery, it was decided that there should be turn and turn
about in the matter of steering and operating the craft. Reaching
a height of three thousand feet, as Dick ascertained by the
barograph, the young millionaire straightened his craft out on a
level keel, and kept her there, sending her ahead, and in curves,
at an increasing speed.
"There you go now, Paul," he called. "Suppose you take her for a
"Well, if you want an accident, just let me monkey with some of the
works," laughed the jolly cadet. "I can do it to the queen's
"You'll have to go out of your way, then," said Mr. Vardon. "I've
arranged the controls so they are as nearly careless proof as
possible. Just think a little bit about what you are going to do,
and you won't have any trouble. It's a good thing for all of you
to learn to manage the craft alone. So start in."
Paul found it easier than he expected, and he said, in spite of her
bulk, that the Abaris really steered easier than one of the smaller
biplanes they had gotten used to at Kentfield.
Back and forth over the fields, meadows and woods in the vicinity
of Hamilton Corners the airship was taken, in charge of first one
and then another of the party aboard. Larry Dexter was perhaps the
one least familiar with the workings of the machine, yet even he did
well, with Dick and Mr. Vardon at his side to coach him.
"Now we'll give the gyroscope stabilizer a test!" said Mr. Vardon,
when each, including himself, had had a turn. "I want to make sure
that it will stand any strain we can put on it."
"What are you going to do?" asked Dick.
"I'm going to tilt the craft suddenly at an angle that would turn
her over if it were not for the stabilizer," was the answer.
Dick looked at the barograph, or height-recording gage. It
registered thirty-eight hundred feet. They had gone up a
considerable distance in making their experiments.
"Maybe you'd better wait," suggested the young millionaire, pointing
to the hand of the dial, "until we go down a bit."
"No," decided the aviator. "If she's going to work at all she'll
do it up at this distance as well, if not better, than she would
five hundred, or one hundred feet, from the ground."
"But it might be safer--" began Paul.
"There won't be any danger--it will work, I'm sure of it," said Mr.
The gyroscope which was depended on to keep the airship on a level
keel at all times, or at least to bring her back to it if she were
thrown to a dangerous angle, had been set in motion as soon as the
start was made. The big lead wheel, with the bearings of
antifriction metal, was spinning around swiftly and noiselessly.
Once it had been started, a small impulse from a miniature
electrical motor kept it going.
"Now," said Mr. Vardon, issuing his orders, "when I give the word
I want you all suddenly to come from that side of the cabin to this
side. At the same time, Dick, you will be at the steering wheel,
and I want you to throw her head around as if you were making a
quick turn for a spiral descent. That ought to throw her nearly on
her beams' end, and we'll see how the gyroscope works. That will
be a good test. I'll stand by to correct any fault in the
They were all a little apprehensive as they ranged themselves in
line near one wall of the cabin. The airship tilted slightly as
all the weight came on one side, just as a big excursion steamer
lists to starboard or port when the crowd suddenly rushes all to one
rail. But, on a steamer, deck hand are kept in readiness, with
barrels of water, and these they roll to the opposite rail of the
boat, thus preserving the balance.
Mr. Vardon depended on the gyroscope to perform a like service for
the airship, and to do it automatically.
The aviator waited a few moments before giving the order to make the
sudden rush. Already the apparatus to which was contrasted
Lieutenant Larson's mercury tubes, had acted, and the Abaris, which
had dipped, when all the passengers collected on one side, had now
resumed her level keel again, showing that the gyroscope had worked
so far at any rate.
"Now we'll give her a trial," called Mr. Vardon. "All ready, come
over on the run, and throw her around, Dick!"
On the run they came, and Dick whirled the steering wheel around to
the left, to cause the Abaris to swerve suddenly.
And swerve she did. With a sickening motion she turned as a vessel
rolls in a heavy sea, and, at the same moment there was a dip toward
the earth. The motor which had been humming at high speed went dead
on the instant, and Dick Hamilton's airship plunged downward.
DICK IS WARNED
"What's the matter?"
"Somebody do something!"
Everyone seemed talking at once, calling out in fear, and looking
wildly about for some escape from what seemed about to be a fatal
accident. For the Abaris was over half a mile high and was shooting
toward the earth at a terrific rate.
"Wait! Quiet, everybody!" called Dick, who had not deserted his
post at the steering wheel. "I'll bring her up. We'll volplane
down! It'll be all right!"
His calmness made his chums feel more secure, and a glance at Mr.
Vardon and his machinist aided in this. For the veteran aviator,
after a quick inspection of the machinery, no longer looked worried.
"What has happened?" asked Innis.
"Our engine stalled, for some unknown reason," answered Mr. Vardon,
quickly. "Fortunately nothing is broken. I'll see if I can't start
it with the electrical generator. Are you holding her all right,
"I think so; yes. I can take four or five minutes more to let her
"Well, take all the time you can. Head her up every once in a
while. It will be good practice for you. The stabilizer worked
all right, anyhow."
The airship was not on a level keel, but was inclined with her "bow"
pointed to the earth, going downward on a slant. But Dick knew how
to manage in this emergency, for many times he had practiced
volplaning to earth in ordinary biplanes.
By working the lever of the vertical rudder, he now brought the
head, or bow, of the airship up sharply, and for a moment the
downward plunge was arrested. The Abaris shot along parallel to
the plane of the earth's surface.
This operation, repeated until the ground is reached, is, as I have
already explained, called volplaning.
"Something is wrong," announced Mr. Vardon, as he yanked on the
lever of the starting motor, and turned the switch. Only the hum
of the electrical machine resulted. The gasolene motor did not
"pick up," though both the gasolene and spark levers were thrown
"Never mind," counseled Dick. "I can bring her down all right.
There's really nothing more the matter than if we had purposely
stopped the motor."
"No, that's so," agreed Mr. Vardon. "But still I want to see what
the trouble is, and why it stopped. I'll try the hand starter."
But this was of no use either. The gasolene motor would not start,
and without that the propellers could not be set in motion to
sustain the big craft in the air. Mr. Vardon, and his helper, with
the aid of Innis, Paul and Larry, worked hard at the motor, but it
was as obstinate as the engine of some stalled motor-boat.
"I can't understand it," said the aviator.
"There's plenty of gasolene in the tank, and the spark is a good,
fat one. But the motor simply won't start. How you making out,
"All right. We're going to land a considerable distance from home,
but maybe we can get her started when we reach the ground."
"We'll try, anyhow," agreed the aviator. "Is she responding all
"Fine. Couldn't be better. Let some of the other boys take a hand
"Well, maybe it would be a good plan," agreed the aviator. "You
never can tell when you've got to make a glide. Take turns, boys."
"I don't think I'd better, until I learn how to run an airship that
isn't in trouble," said Larry Dexter.
"Well, perhaps not," said Mr. Vardon. "But the others may."
Meanwhile the Abaris had been slowly nearing earth, and it was this
slowness, caused by the gradual "sifting" down that would make it
possible to land her with scarcely a jar.
If you have ever seen a kite come down when the wind has died out,
you will understand exactly what this "sifting "is. It means
gliding downward in a series of acute angles.
The first alarm over, all was now serene aboard Dick's airship.
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