Dick Hamiliton's Airship
Howard R. Garis
Part 5 out of 5
The propellers, as I have said, could be reached from the open deck,
and thither Mr. Vardon, Dick, and Lieutenant McBride took
themselves, while Paul, Innis and Larry would look after the
progress of the craft from the pilot-house and motor-room.
Slowly Dick's airship went along, just enough speed being maintained
to prevent her settling. She barely held her own, while, far ahead
of her, and fast disappearing in the distance, could be seen the
other craft--that carrying Uncle Ezra.
"I guess it's all up with us," murmured Paul, as he went to the
"No, it isn't!" cried Dick. "I'm not going to give up yet! We can
still make time when we get the repairs made, and I'll run the motor
until her bearings melt before I give up!"
"That's the way to talk!" cried the army man. "And we're all with
you. There's a good chance yet, for those fellows must be
desperate, or they'd never have tried what they did. My opinion is
that they hope to reach San Francisco in a last dash, and they were
afraid we'd come in ahead of them. But I can't understand how that
army man aboard would permit such a thing. It is past belief!"
It was no easy task to make the repairs with the airship in motion.
Spare parts, including a sprocket chain, were carried aboard, but
the work had to be done close to the other revolving propeller, and,
as slowly as it was whirling about, it went fast enough to cause
instant death to whoever was hit by it. So extreme caution had to
To add to the troubles it began to rain violently, and a
thunderstorm developed, which made matters worse. Out in the
pelting storm, with electrically-charged clouds all about them, and
vivid streaks of lightning hissing near them, the aviators worked.
They were drenched to the skin. Their hands were bruised and cut
by slipping wrenches and hammers. Their faces were covered with
black grease, dirt and oil. But still they labored on. The storm
grew worse, and it was all the Abaris could do to stagger ahead,
handicapped as she was by half power.
But there were valiant hearts aboard her, and everyone was imbued
with indomitable courage.
"We're going to do it!" Dick cried, fiercely, and the others echoed
Finally, after many hours of work, the last rivet was driven home,
and Mr. Vardon cried:
"There we are! Now then, full speed ahead!"
The repaired propeller was thrown into gear. It meshed perfectly,
and once more the Abaris shot ahead under her full power.
"Speed her up!" cried Dick, and the motor was put to the limit. But
much precious time had been lost. Could they win under such adverse
circumstances? It was a question each one asked himself.
Darkness came on, and the tired and weary aviators ate and slept.
The night passed, a clear, calm night, for the storm had blown
itself out. High over the mountains soared the airship through the
hours of darkness. She was fighting to recover what she had lost.
And when morning came they calculated they were but a few hundred
miles from San Francisco.
Paul, who had gone to the pilot-house to relieve Innis, gave a
"Look! Look!" he shouted. "There's the other airship!"
And as the others looked they saw, ahead of them, emerging from the
midst of a cloud, Uncle Ezra's speedy craft. And, as they looked,
they saw something else--something that filled them with horror.
For, as they gazed at the craft which had so nearly, either by
accident or design, wrecked them, they saw one of the big side
planes crumple up, as does a bird's broken wing. Either the
supports had given way, or a sudden gust of air strained it too
"They're falling!" cried Dick, hoarsely.
The other airship was. The broken plane gave no support on that
side, and as the motor still raced on, whirling the big propellers,
the Larabee, unevenly balanced, in spite of the mercury stabilizers,
tilted to one side.
Then, a hopeless wreck, she turned over and plunged downward toward
the earth. Her race was over.
SAVING UNCLE EZRA
For a moment those aboard Dick's airship uttered not a sound. Then,
as they saw the rival craft sifting slowly downward, gliding from
side to side like a sheet of paper, they looked at one another with
horror in their eyes. It seemed such a terrible end.
Dick was the first to speak.
"We'll have to go down and help them," he said simply. "Some of
them may be--alive!"
It meant stopping the race, it meant making the last of the two
landings allowed them. And it was a landing in a wild and desolate
place, seemingly, for there was no sign of city or town below them.
And just now, after her repairs, when everything was running
smoothly, it behooved Dick and his associates to take advantage of
every mile and minute they could gain. Otherwise some other craft
might get in ahead of them.
Yet Dick had said they must go down. There was no other course left
them, in the name of humanity. As the young millionaire had
observed, some of those in the wrecked airship might be alive. They
might survive the fall, great as it was.
"Send her down, Mr. Vardon," said Dick quietly. "We may be able to
save some of them."
If he thought that possibly he was losing his last chance to win
the trans-continental race, he said nothing about it.
The motor was shut off, and there was silence aboard the Abaris.
No one felt like talking. As they volplaned downward they saw the
wreck of the Larabee strike the outer branches of a big tree, and
then turn over again before crashing to the ground.
"She may catch fire from the gasolene," said Dick, in a tense voice.
"We ought to hurry all we can."
"I could go down faster," said Mr. Vardon, "by starting up the
motor. But I don't like to until I see what sort of landing ground
"No, it's wiser to go a bit slowly," agreed Lieutenant McBride.
"We must save ourselves in order to save them--if possible. It's
a terrible accident!"
As they came nearer earth they saw a comparatively smooth and level
spot amid a clearing of trees. It was not far from where the wreck
lay, a crumpled-up mass. Down floated the Abaris gently, and hardly
had she ceased rolling along on her wheels that Dick and the others
rushed out to lend their aid to Uncle Ezra and the others.
Dick's uncle lay at some little distance from the broken craft.
"He's alive," said his nephew, feeling of the old man's heart.
"He's still breathing."
Lieutenant Wilson, as the name of the army officer on the Larabee
was learned later to be, seemed quite badly injured. He was tangled
up in the wreckage, and it took some work to extricate him. Larson
was the most severely hurt. He was tenderly placed to one side.
Fortunately the wreck had not caught fire.
"Let's see if we can revive them," suggested Lieutenant McBride,
nodding toward Uncle Ezra and his fellow soldiers. "Then we will
consider what is best to do."
Simple restoratives were carried aboard Dick's airship, and these
were given to Uncle Ezra, who revived first. He opened his eyes
and sat up.
"Where--where am I?" he stammered. "Did I win the race?"
"No, Uncle Ezra, I'm sorry to say you didn't," answered Dick,
gently. "There was an accident, and your airship is smashed."
The old man slowly looked over to the crumpled mass of planes and
machinery, and then, slowly and painfully, for he was much bruised,
he pulled a note-book from his pocket. Leafing over the pages he
"Busted to smithereens, and she cost me exactly eleven thousand five
hundred and thirty-three dollars and nineteen cents! Oh, what a lot
of money!" And the expression on his face was so painful that Dick
felt inclined to laugh, solemn as the occasion was. But he
"Where's that fellow Larson?" asked Uncle Ezra.
"Badly hurt," said Dick, quietly.
"Oh, well, then I won't say anything," murmured the old man. "Oh,
what a trip it was!"
"Are you much hurt?" asked Dick.
It did not appear that his uncle was. The fall had been a lucky
one for him. His helmet had protected his head, and he had on two
suits of clothes, well padded. The others were dressed likewise,
but it had not saved Larson.
Lieutenant Wilson's most serious injury was a broken leg, but he
was also otherwise hurt. He soon recovered consciousness, and said:
"Please don't misjudge me. I could not stop Larson from trying to
ram you. He was insane, I guess. We have had a terrible time with
him. He was mad to try to win this race. We remonstrated with him
when he sailed toward you, but he said he was only trying to show
you what a superior machine he had, and how much better his mercury
stabilizers worked than your gyroscope. But I really fear he meant
you some injury."
"I think so, too," said Lieutenant McBride, "and I am glad to learn
no one else was in the plot."
"And his own foolish actions were the cause of this wreck," went on
Lieutenant Wilson. "He said he was sure of winning after he had
left you behind, and he wanted to try some experiments in quick
turns. He made one too quick, and broke off one of the planes."
"Well, we must consider what is to be done," said Mr. Vardon. "We
must get you all to a hospital and a doctor, at once."
"Don't mind about me," replied Lieutenant Wilson, gamely. "If you
can send me help, do so, but don't delay here. Go on and win the
race. You have the best chance, I believe."
"We don't go on until we see you cared for," spoke Dick. "We would
take you all with us, only it might endanger you."
"Well, I wish you'd take me!" exclaimed Uncle Ezra, limping about.
"I want to get back home. Nephew Richard, I'm sorry I tried to beat
you in this race."
"That's all right, Uncle Ezra," answered the young millionaire.
"You had as good a right to try for the prize as I did."
"But I want to say I didn't have no hand in trying to butt into
you," went on Mr. Larabee. "It was all that--that unfortunate man's
idea," he added more softly, as he gazed at Larson who was still
unconscious. "Dick, will you forgive me, and shake hands?"
"Surely, Uncle Ezra," and as their hands met, Grit, who had been
eyeing Mr. Larabee narrowly, uttered a joyful bark, and actually
wagged his tail at Uncle Ezra.
"Grit, you shake hands, too," ordered Dick, and though Uncle Ezra
was a little diffident at first, he grasped the extended paw of the
bulldog. They were friends for the first time.
"We could take Uncle Ezra in the airship," said Paul, after a pause,
"and if we could only send out a call for help for Lieutenant Wilson
and Larson, they would be looked after."
"There's an army post not far from here," spoke Wilson. "If you
could make a trip there--"
"We'd have to land again, to summon aid, and this is the last stop
we are allowed in the race," said Mr. Vardon. "I don't see how--"
"Your wireless!" interrupted Lieutenant McBride. "We can send out
a call to the army post by that--if they have a wireless station."
"They have," answered Lieutenant Wilson, as his fellow officer
looked at him. "If you will summon aid from there, we will be well
taken care of."
"Good!" cried Dick. "That problem is solved."
The wireless apparatus was brought out, the small balloon inflated,
and it carried aloft the aerials. Then, while the call for aid was
being sent out, Lieutenants Wilson and Larson were made as
comfortable as possible, and some of Uncle Ezra's scratches and
bruises were looked after.
"No more airships for me," he said bitterly, though with a chastened
spirit. "I'm going to stick to farming, and my woolen mill. Just
think of it--over eleven thousand dollars in that pile of--junk!"
and he shook his head sadly at the wreck of his airship.
"We'll take you on to San Francisco with us, if you like," said
Dick. "You can see us win the race--if we can," he added.
"You still have an excellent chance," said Lieutenant McBride. "My
advice to you would be to remain here a few days to rest up and make
sure all your machinery is in good order. The time will not count
against you. By that time the injured ones will be cared for. Then
you can go on again and complete the course. You have enough oil
and gasolene, have you not?"
"We could ask that some be brought from the army post, if we have
not," Dick answered. "I think we will adopt that plan.''
"And I--I hope you win," said Uncle Ezra. "I'd like to see that
twenty thousand dollars come into the family, anyhow," he added,
with a mountainous sigh.
WITH UNCLE EZRA'S HELP
"On the last lap!"
"No more landings!"
Thus cried Innis, Paul and Larry as they stood in the cabin of the
airship. Once more they were on the flight.
"This train makes no stops this side of San Francisco!" cried Dick
Hamilton, after the manner of the conductor of a Limited. "That
is, I hope we don't," he added with a grim smile. "If we do it will
cost me twenty thousand dollars."
"Quite an expensive stop," observed Lieutenant McBride.
"Don't think of it!" said Uncle Ezra. "Nephew Richard, after my
failure, you've just GOT to win that prize."
"I'll try," Dick answered.
It was several days after the events narrated in the last chapter.
The wireless, sending out its crackling call, had brought speedy
help from the army post, and the two lieutenants were taken to the
hospital by their fellow soldiers.
Larson recovered consciousness before Dick and his friends left,
but was delirious, and practically insane. They had to bind him
with ropes to prevent him doing himself and others an injury. His
mind had been affected for some time, it was believed.
Some time later, I am glad to say, he recovered, in a sanitorium,
though he was always lame from the accident. He was a much
different man, however, and begged Dick's forgiveness for trying to
collide with him. Lieutenant Wilson made a quick recovery, and, in
spite of the mishap, still kept up his interest in aviation, winning
much fame for himself.
The army officers, who came to attend the injured ones, brought Dick
some supplies and gasolene.
Uncle Ezra begged that some part of his wrecked airship be saved,
but it was impossible. There was little left that was worth
anything, and Dick, by taking his uncle as an extra passenger, added
enough weight as it was, so that no parts of the Larabee could be
"I might have saved a little," said Uncle Ezra, with a sigh. "I've
lost a pile of money!" But he realized that it was out of the
The Abaris had been gone over minutely, and put in excellent shape
for her final dash. She was taken to the edge of a sloping
table-land and there once more launched into space. Before that,
however, Lieutenant Wilson had been taken back to the army post, and
Larson sent to the hospital. Lieutenant Wilson wished Dick and his
friends all sorts of good luck.
Then, with Uncle Ezra aboard, the start was made. There was some
crowding, because of the extra passenger, and his valise, which he
insisted on bringing with him, but this could be borne.
"We ought to make San Francisco in three hours now," said Dick, when
they were up in the air once more.
Uncle Ezra was frankly delighted with his nephew's craft. He did
not even say it was wasteful, when Dick told him how much she cost.
"I know airships are terrible expensive--terrible!" said Mr.
Larabee, as he looked at the note-book in which he had jotted down
every item of money paid for his own.
That Larson had wasted money, and used much of what was given him
for his own purposes was very evident. But it was too late to think
of that now.
Uncle Ezra told of their experiences in crossing the continent.
They had really had excellent luck, and in the hands of a better
aviator, or one more dependable, the Larabee might have won the
race. She was really a good biplane, but could only carry three,
and then with no comfort at all, as compared to Dick's. But the
mercury stabilizers worked fairly well, though not as good as the
"Yes, I was sorry, more than once, that I ever left Dankville,"
Uncle Ezra said, "but Larson wouldn't let me stop. He kept right
on. I'm sure he was crazy."
On and on rushed the Abaris. She was racing against time now, and
every minute and mile counted. While down on the ground, helping
save Uncle Ezra, Dick had, by wireless, communicated with the army
authorities in San Francisco, telling them he was coming on the last
stage, and asking that a landing-place be designated. This was
done, Presido Park Reservation, on the outskirts of the city being
named as the spot where the craft could officially come down.
"We'll soon be there," remarked Dick, who was at the wheel. It was
afternoon, and by computation they were not more than ninety miles
from their goal.
"See anything of any other craft?" asked Paul of his chum.
"Take a look, Innis," suggested the young millionaire. "We might
get a race at the last minute."
Innis swept the horizon with the glasses.
"There's something coming behind us," he said. "I can't tell
whether it's a big bird, or an airship."
A little later, however, the speck in the blue sky was made out to
be a big biplane, rushing onward.
"They're probably trying for the prize," said Dick. "Of course we
don't know anything about their time and stops, but, just the same,
I'm going to beat her in, if I can. We'll run the motor under
forced speed, Mr. Vardon, and feed her heated gasolene."
"That's the idea!" cried the aviator. "That ought to help some."
The motor was so adjusted as to take heated gasolene, the liquid
vaporizing and exploding better than when cold. The Abaris rushed
on at increased speed.
But so, also, came on behind her the other airship. As Dick had
said, that craft might have no chance, having used up more than her
limit of stops, or having consumed more elapsed time than had he.
But, for all that, he was taking no chances.
The other craft was a swift one. That was easily seen as it slowly
crept up on Dick. The speed of each was terrific. The gages showed
ninety-five miles an hour for the Abaris. At that rate the city of
Oakland, just across the bay from San Francisco, was soon sighted.
And then something happened that nearly put Dick out of the race.
His motor suddenly stopped, and all efforts to start it proved
"We've got to go down!" cried our hero, and within sight of the
goal, too! This is fierce!"
"What's the trouble?" asked Larry.
"Not a drop of gasolene left!" said Mr. Vardon, with a tragic
gesture, as he made an examination. "There's a leak in the tank.
We haven't a drop left. The vibration must have opened a seam and
we've been spilling our fuel as we went along."
"There goes the other airship!" cried Innis, as the big biplane
flashed by them. They had now crossed Oakland and the bay.
"And the Presido Park is in sight!" yelled Paul, pointing to a big
field, now black with people, for the coming of Dick had been
flashed all over San Francisco and Oakland.
"We can never make it," the young millionaire murmured. "We'll have
to volplane down, but we can't reach the park. Oh, for a gallon of
gasolene! One gallon would do!"
"What's that!" cried Uncle Ezra, coming from his bunk room. "What
do you want of gasolene?"
"To complete the trip," cried Dick. "Ours is all gone! A gallon
"Then, by hickory, you shall have it!" suddenly cried Mr. Larabee.
"Where can you get it?" demanded Dick. "There isn't a drop aboard!
"Oh, yes there is!" his uncle answered. "Here it is," and he
brought from his room a square, gallon can.
"Great Scott!" cried Dick, as he took it and hurried with it toward
the empty tank. "Where in the world did you get it?"
"I brought it along in my valise to clean the grease spots off my
clothes," answered Uncle Ezra, simply. "I got all oil from my
airship. But I wasn't going to buy a new suit when I could clean
my old one."
"Whoop!" cried Dick, with boyish enthusiasm. "This may save the
race for us."
The Abaris had already begun to settle down, but a moment later, as
the motor received the supply of gasolene so Providentially
provided, she shot forward again, her momentum scarcely checked.
On and on she rushed. It was nip and tuck now between her and the
rival airship. The big crowd in the aviation field yelled and
shouted at the sight of the thrilling race.
The other airship seemed to falter and hesitate. The pilot cut off
his motor, but too soon. Dick rushed his craft on, passed the
other, and then, seeing that he had the advantage, he turned off
his power, and volplaned to the landing spot just about fifteen
seconds in advance of his rival. He had beaten in the race at the
last minute. But it still remained to be seen whether he had
triumphed over other, and possibly previous, arrivals.
Out of the Abaris rushed the young millionaire and his friends
before she had ceased rolling over the ground. The other biplane
was just behind them.
An army officer ran out of the crowd of spectators.
"Who is the pilot of this craft?" he asked.
"I am," answered Dick.
"And where is your official army timekeeper?"
"Here," answered Lieutenant McBride, saluting. "Are we the first
to cross the continent?"
How anxiously Dick waited for the answer. "No, not the first,"
replied the San Francisco officer. "One biplane arrived yesterday.
What is your time?"
Lieutenant McBride made a hasty calculation.
"Sixty-two hours, forty minutes and fourteen seconds from, New York,
taking out the time of two landings," was the reply.
"Then you win!" cried Captain Weston, as he introduced himself.
"That is, unless this other craft can better your time. For the
first arrival was seventy-two hours altogether."
And Dick had won, for the biplane with which he had just had the
exciting race, had consumed more than eighty hours, exclusive of
stops, from coast to coast.
"Hurray, Dick! You win!" cried Innis, clapping his chum on the
"The best trans-continental flight ever made!" declared Captain
Weston, as he congratulated the young millionaire.
"I'd like to have gotten here first," murmured Dick.
"Well, you'd have been here first, only for the delay my airship
caused you," said Uncle Ezra. "I'm sorry."
"But you get the prize," spoke Lieutenant McBride.
"Yes," assented Captain Weston, of Fort Mason. "It was the time
that counted, not the order of arrival. Which reminds me that you
may yet be beaten, Mr. Hamilton, for there are other airships on
But Dick was not beaten. His nearest competitor made a poorer
record by several hours, so Dick's performance stood.
And that, really, is all there is to tell of this story, except to
add that by the confession of Larson, later it was learned that he
had tampered with Mr. Vardon's gyroscope, as had been suspected.
The twenty thousand dollars was duly paid, and Dick gave the United
States government an option to purchase his patents of the Abaris.
For them he would receive a substantial sum, and a large part of
this would go to Mr. Vardon for his gyroscope.
"So you'll be all right from now on," his cousin Innis remarked.
"Yes, thanks to your friend Dick Hamilton. My good luck all dates
from meeting him."
"Yes, he is a lucky chap," agreed Paul.
"I think Uncle Ezra had all the luck this trip," put in Dick, as he
heard the last words. "That gasolene he brought along to clean the
grease off his clothes saved our bacon, all right. It sure did!"
And I believe Dick was right.
Mr. Hamilton, to whom Dick wired a brief message of the successful
ending of the trip, telegraphed back:
"Congratulations. You made good after all. I haven't any doubts
"That's another time I put one over on dad!" laughed Dick.
"Where are you going, Larry?" asked the young millionaire, as he
saw his young newspaper friend hurrying across the aviation field.
"I'm going to wire the story to the Leader," was the answer. "I
want 'em to know we crossed the continent and won the prize. It'll
be a great beat!"
Of how Dick was feted and greeted by an aviation club in San
Francisco, of how he was made much of by the army officers, and how
he had to give many exhibition flights, I will say nothing here, as
this book is already lengthy enough. Sufficient to remark that the
young millionaire had a great time at the City of the Golden Gate,
and Uncle Ezra and his friends enjoyed it with him. Grit, also,
came in for a share of attention.
Dick Hamilton left his airship with the San Francisco army officers,
as he had agreed to do, for they wanted to study its construction.
In due season, the party started back East.
"I rather calculated you'd go back in the airship," said Uncle Ezra.
"Railroad fare is terrible expensive, and I've lost so much money
"I'll buy your ticket," said Dick generously, "especially as you
helped me win the race," and Mr. Larabee, with a look of relief on
his face, put back his pocketbook.
"And now for Hamilton Corners!" exclaimed Dick, as they got in the
train. "I've had enough of airships for a while, though it was
great sport." And here we will take leave of Dick Hamilton and his
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