Wings of the Storm

While Andy lay senseless on the floor of the hangar with the flames from
the oil-soaked waste mounting higher, a shadow appeared in the doorway.
It was Blatz, whom Andy had surprised in the hangar as he was about to
attempt the destruction of the Goliath.

The German observer crept closer to the flames and it was not until he
was almost at the blaze that he discerned the inert form of the
assistant pilot.

“Andy,” he cried, “Andy!”

There was no answer and Blatz acted with sudden determination. He picked
up the coat which Andy still clutched and used the garment to beat out
the flames. That task accomplished he turned on his flashlight and bent
down to examine the lump on Andy’s forehead. The young airman groaned
and Blatz chuckled grimly. The game was nearly over. He was glad.

He managed to pick Andy up and carried the now half-conscious American
out of the hangar and into his office, where he turned on the light.

Andy came to several minutes later and finally focused his eyes long
enough on one spot to see Blatz standing in front of him.

“I’m on to you,” cried Andy, struggling to get out of his chair. “You’re
trying to destroy the Goliath.”

“Easy, Andy, easy,” urged Blatz. “You’ve had another nasty bump on your
head. The Goliath is all right.”

“The last I remember is falling,” said Andy. “How did I get in here and
what are you doing around the hangar at this time of night?”

“You took a tumble, all right,” agreed Blatz, “and the match you had in
your hand fell into a handful of greasy waste. You’d chased me out of
the hangar but if I hadn’t been curious when you failed to follow, the
whole thing might have burned up. As it was, I got back in time to put
out the fire before it got to you or the Goliath.”

Andy looked at the speaker with incredulous eyes.

“If that’s true,” he said, “I have done you a great wrong.”

Before the observer could reply, Bert burst through the door.

“Big news,” he said. “The Rubanian air force rebelled this afternoon and
forced Dictator Reikoff clear out of the country. I just got that
bulletin over in the radio shack.”

“You’re sure there’s no mistake?” asked Blatz.

“Positive,” replied Bert. “It was an Associated Press dispatch
broadcast through the courtesy of one of the Louisville papers.”

Blatz looked at Andy and they smiled understanding.

“What’s the joke,” demanded Bert.

“There isn’t any joke,” replied Blatz gravely, “and I can now tell you
the truth. I am Lieut. Serge Larko of the Rubanian air force. I was
assigned to special duty as an agent of the Gerka, our secret police,
and my mission was to make a non-stop flight to the United States, make
my way to Bellevue and bring about the destruction of the Goliath.”

Bert stared at him in speechless wonder but Andy nodded and said.

“Then you were piloting the gray monoplane we chased that afternoon?”

“Right,” said Serge. “You gave me a real scare.”

“And you went into that warehouse on the east side while we were in New
York?” continued Andy.

“Right again.”

“And tonight you went into the hangar for the purpose of destroying the

“I started in with that purpose,” admitted Serge, “but I’m too much of
an airman. After I got inside I couldn’t bring myself to damage that
beautiful craft. I was about to leave when you entered and we met in the
dark. You know the rest of the story.”

“I know that it was mighty fortunate for me that you came back,” replied
Andy and be grasped Serge warmly by the hand. “Now that the menace of
Reikoff has been removed from your homeland, I’m sure we’ll become real
friends. We’ll see Dad and Captain Harkins about having you added to the
permanent staff of the National Airways.”

“I’d like that,” smiled Serge happily, “but they’ll probably order me
away from Bellevue or the secret service may take a hand in my case.”

“I think Merritt Timms can be made to see things my way,” replied Andy.

“When did you first suspect me?” asked Serge. “Almost as soon as you
arrived,” admitted Andy. “If you remember I questioned you about
Friedrichshafen and suggested that you might know Karl Staab? When you
admitted that you knew Staab I decided something was wrong for as far as
I know Staab never existed outside of my own mind.”

“But I really have been at Friedrichshafen,” replied Serge.

“I believed that,” said Andy, “for your technical knowledge showed you
had been trained with the Germans. Now let’s go over to the hotel and
see Dad and Captain Harkins.”

The conference at the hotel was interesting and successful and before
the long evening drew to a close it was agreed that Serge Larko, who had
assumed his real identity, should become a permanent member of the
Goliath’s crew.

Even though the next day promised to be unusually busy, it was midnight
before they were in bed but they were up at the crack of dawn.

Serge was happier than he had been in months and Andy felt that a great
weight had been lifted from his mind. There was no further danger to the
Goliath from inside sources and they were practically ready for the test

Lieut. Jim Crummit, in command of the army pursuit ships at Bellevue,
stopped them as they left the hotel.

“Will you want us to stand by this afternoon in case you decide to take
the Goliath aloft?” he asked Captain Harkins.

“I hardly think that will be necessary, Lieutenant!” replied the
commander of the Goliath. “Any flight we might make would be confined to
the limits of the field.”

“Right, sir,” said the army officer as he turned and walked toward the
hangars which housed the army ships.

At eight o’clock Andy, Serge and Bert gathered in the radio shack and
Bert turned his set to talk with the Neptune. There was a steady crackle
of interference but Bert stepped up the power with the hope that he
would get through to the Neptune.

“Looks like we’re out of luck this morning,” he finally announced, “but
I’ll give it one more try.” He turned to the dial again, tuning so
carefully the black disks hardly moved.

“Harry’s coming in now,” he said. “I’ll have it strong in a minute.”

Bert switched over to the radiophone loudspeaker and the boys heard
Harry calling, “Hello Bellevue. Good morning.”

“Good morning yourself,” replied Bert. “Have fish for breakfast?”

“Not this morning,” replied Harry. “Besides, it’s mid-forenoon out where
we are. How’s the Goliath?”

Andy picked up the microphone and told Harry briefly what had taken
place the night before, adding that Serge had been added to the crew of
the Goliath and would make the trip to the North pole.

“I’m glad to hear that,” replied Harry over the magic waves which
bridged the hundreds of miles between them. “I’ll say hello to Serge if
he’ll take the mike now.”

The young Rubanian conversed with Harry for several minutes and then the
operator of the Neptune signed off.

“I’ll be back on the air tonight at eight,” he told Bert. “Be sure and
let me know how the Goliath behaves on her first trip out of the

The interior of the great hangar was alive with activity that morning.
Final weight checks were being made for the war department.
Specifications on the total weight were very strict and builders of
dirigibles were always prone to exceed the specification limit.

Captain Harkins and Andy’s father were at first one end of the Goliath
and then at the other supervising the countless last minute tasks.

A tri-motor droned over the field at 11 o’clock, circled and dropped
down to waddle across the fresh green of the meadow. It stopped at one
side of the Goliath’s hangar and a dozen army officers, all with the
wings of the air corps on their collars, descended and walked toward the

Captain Harkins and Andy’s father hastened to make them welcome and
assure them that the Goliath would be ready for a walk-out test
immediately after lunch.

While the builders and chief engineers of the Goliath entertained the
visiting army delegation at the hotel at noon, Andy and Serge made the
final inspection of the big ship. The ground crew had been drilled in
its task and the operator of the portable mooring mast to which the nose
of the Goliath had been fastened had thoroughly rehearsed his part.

At one o’clock the army officers, accompanied by Captain Harkins and
Charles High, returned from the hotel. For the next hour the army men
went over the Goliath, inspecting every yard of fabric and testing every
duralumin beam. Motors were put on test, Bert demonstrated the power of
his radio equipment and even the passenger cabins came in for a rigid

At two o’clock Captain Harkins stepped into the control room at the
forward end of the gondola.

“Everything ready?” he asked Andy, in whom he had placed a large share
of responsibility for the successful flight.

“Everything ready, sir,” replied Andy.

Captain Harkins took over the controls. The army officers lined the
windows of the control room. Andy leaned out one window on the right
side and placed a whistle to his mouth. He was wearing a telephone
headset while on the wall of the control room was a compact little
switchboard so that he could instantly communicate with any part of the
dirigible whenever Captain Harkins gave a command.

The great moment was at hand. The Goliath was ready for its first test,
the walk-out from the hangar. Months of work and planning were
represented in the great ship; would it live up to expectations?

Andy sounded a shrill blast on the whistle. The ground crew, which had
been waiting for the signal, leaped to its stations. The operator of the
portable mooring mast started the engine of the big tractor-truck which
carried the mast.

The assistant pilot of the Goliath looked at Captain Harkins, who nodded

Andy sounded two long blasts on the whistle. The shackles which had held
the Goliath in the hangar for so many months were loosened. The great
airship quivered slightly as though eager to test its power.

The blasts of the whistle echoed through the hangar and the operator of
the huge tractor ahead eased in the clutch and started forward. The
Goliath lurched slightly at the tug of the mooring mast, and then slowly
started ahead. The ground crew steadied the great hulk as it was eased
out of the shed. There was no wind and in ten minutes the Goliath was
outside the hangar in which it had been born and in which it had grown
to such proportions that it was king of all the skycraft.

The Goliath moved steadily ahead until it was well away from the hangar.
Captain Harkins signaled Andy and another blast of the whistle stopped
the portable mooring mast.

Captain Harkins conferred with the ranking air corps officer and Andy
caught a snatch of their conversation. They were going to take the
Goliath up. The big ship was behaving perfectly and the army men were
anxious for an air test. Captain Harkins assented and turned to Andy.

“Have the motors started at once,” he ordered.

Andy cut in a main phone connection so that he could talk to each of the
12 motor rooms at the same time.

“Start your motors,” he said, “and stand by for flight.”

Sharp, joyous answers echoed in his ears as the engineers hastened to
start the engines which were capable of sending the Goliath through the
air at a maximum speed of 120 miles an hour.

The rear engine crews were the first to get their motors turning over
but within a minute the steady pulse of the 12 powerful engines could
be heard. Engine room after engine room reported to Andy and he checked
each one off as they reported ready. In three minutes he turned to
Captain Harkins and said:

“The engineers are ready.”

The Goliath was ready to test its wings. For a moment it hung, poised
just above the ground. Then Captain Harkins nodded again, Andy’s whistle
shrilled the “lines away” call and the Goliath floated upward into the
heavens. For the moment it was the world’s largest balloon, drifting
upward in the warm rays of the afternoon sun, lifted higher and higher
by the buoyancy of its helium gas.

Andy, Bert and Serge were grouped at one of the windows in the control
cabin together. The ground simply floated away from them. There was no
sense of sudden rising; no undue motion to the great craft.

Fifty, one hundred and then two hundred feet the Goliath climbed into
the skies, its powerful motors purring smoothly and ready to take up
their task.

Andy cut in the general connection to all of the engine rooms and warned
the engineers to stand by for further orders.

When the Goliath was three hundred feet above the field, Captain Harkins
turned to Andy and gave the order for slow speed ahead.

“Slow speed ahead,” Andy repeated into the transmitter.

The Goliath came to life almost instantly. The great gas bag shook
itself as though getting accustomed to its new power and then moved
slowly ahead, the ground beneath drifting away in a fascinating

Captain Harkins, at the controls, moved the wheel which operated the
elevators at the tail of the Goliath, and the earth dropped rapidly away
from them as they climbed for altitude and circled over the home field.
Andy, looking down, could see the members of the ground crew, faces
upturned, watching their every move.

The great moment had come and passed. The Goliath had soared aloft and
even now was proving the claims of its builders. Captain Harkins ordered
half speed ahead and Andy repeated the command to the engine rooms. The
speed quickened as the beat of the motors increased but so carefully
insulated were the engine rooms that there was no unpleasant or
disturbing noise.

The air corps officers appeared elated at the ease with which the
Goliath handled and they were outspoken in their praise of the engineers
and staff which had constructed the new king of the skies.

For half an hour the Goliath cruised leisurely around the field, now
climbing, now dipping lower at the will of the silent man at the

Andy turned his telephone set over to Bert to relay Captain Harkins’
commands to the engine rooms and in company with his father, made an
inspection of the whole ship.

There had been no shifting of the big gas bags and stress and strain
indicators on the transverse rings of duralumin, the real backbone of
the dirigible, exceeded their expectations. Engine performance was more
than satisfactory and before returning to the control cabin, they
mounted one of the stairways to an observation cockpit on the top of the

Ahead and behind them stretched the smooth, silvered surface of the
Goliath. Far to the east, were the haze enshrouded mountains while below
them was the rich, fresh green of the countryside in spring.

Andy stood close to his father for he knew how much the successful
flight of the new dirigible meant to the vice president of the National
Airways. His father, with Captain Harkins, had dreamed and planned for
years for the Goliath, and the culmination of their hopes meant their
life careers. Andy, himself, had shouldered no small part of the burden
in the studying and engineering necessary for the construction of the
huge ship but he felt his own share small in comparison to the manifold
burdens which his father had carried. They stood together in the
observation cockpit, happy in the knowledge that the Goliath represented
a great task well done.

“Son,” said Charles High, “I’m mighty proud of all that you’ve done in
the building of the Goliath.”

“And I’m mighty proud of you, Dad,” said Andy, “for I have some idea of
the obstacles you’ve had to face and the problems you’ve been called on
to solve. The Goliath is certainly an accomplishment for which the world
will pay you tribute.”

“I’m not looking for tribute or praise,” replied his father.
“Satisfaction in knowing that the job is done, and done well, is all
that I ask. Now I’m looking forward to the day when our plant here at
Bellevue and the Goodyear-Zeppelin people at Akron will be busy all the
time turning out air cruisers like the Goliath; when the country will be
crossed with a network of dirigible lines carrying passengers, express
and valuable freight at a high rate of speed and much more safely than

“The day is coming and it is not so far in the dim and distant future,”
said Andy confidently.

A telephone in the observation cage buzzed and Andy answered the call.
It was Bert, warning them that Captain Harkins was about to descend.

“We’d better get back to the control cabin,” said Andy’s father, and
they hurried down the ladder, along the main interior runway, and into
the control room where Captain Harkins was giving Bert orders to relay
to the engine rooms.

With power on, the Goliath nosed down for its first landing. The ground
crew was strung out along the field, ready to grasp the lines which
would be dropped while the portable mooring mast had been maneuvered
into position for the landing.

They were dropping rapidly but smoothly and there was only a slight
feeling of downward motion. Captain Harkins checked the forward speed of
the Goliath, lines were dropped, and the big ship was back to earth
after a flight in which it had lived up to the fondest hopes of its
designers and builders.

The nose was pushed up against the mooring mast where the automatic
coupling was made and the slow entry into the berth in the hangar
started with the mooring mast, on its tractor-truck, waddling along
ahead and the Goliath following obediently.

In fifteen minutes the big ship was in its berth and the “orange peel”
doors were rolling shut.

Before leaving the gondola, Captain Harkins and Andy’s father held a
conference with the air corps officers who had made the trip with them
and definite plans for the first long trial flight were made. Captain
Harkins turned to Andy when the conference was over.

“See that orders are issued for the crew to be aboard ship and ready to
depart at three in the morning,” he said. “We’re going to make a
surprise visit to Washington if the weather reports at 2 A. M. are

Captain Harkins’ announcement that the Goliath would make its first long
test flight the next morning meant hours of work ahead for Andy but the
assistant pilot of the airship threw himself into the task with his
usual unfailing energy. He had able assistants in Serge and Bert.

The visit to Washington was to be a complete surprise and every effort
was made to keep the news from getting out from Bellevue. If all went
well the first intimation the capital would have of the visit of the new
sky king would be when the rising sun silvered the nose of the Goliath
with its rays.

Andy received detailed reports from each of the engine rooms on the
performance during the trip over the field and found them highly
satisfactory. Fuel consumption had been less than he had anticipated.
Supplies for the flight the next day must be ordered and placed aboard
for breakfast and lunch would be served to the army officers and to the
members of the crew. Serge volunteered to attend to that task while Bert
kept his radio busy getting the latest weather reports. He asked the
Washington bureau for a special report at two o’clock the next morning
and Washington came back with:

“What’s up? Are you chaps going to make a trial flight at that hour of
the night?”

Bert refused to give the curious operators at Washington any information
but secured the promise that he could have a special meteorological
report at the desired hour.

Preparations for the flight were completed by early evening and members
of the crew were ordered to bed by nine o’clock. They would be aroused
shortly after two if the weather report at that hour was favorable for
their plans.

At eight that night the three young friends gathered in Bert’s radio
shack to talk with Harry, now well out to sea in the Neptune. They
picked up Harry’s signal on time to the minute and learned that the
Neptune had been having a bad time of it.

“I’ve been sick most of the day,” said Harry miserably. “The sea got
mighty choppy this morning and we’ve been tossed all over the inside of
this tin fish. The air’s bad, too, and it’s been so rough we couldn’t
have eaten much if we had felt like it.”

“That’s too bad,” replied Bert, “but it’s just what you get for
gallivanting around the world in a cast-iron cigar.”

“When is the Goliath going to test its wings?” asked Harry.

“Can’t tell you,” replied Andy, who had picked up the microphone.

“You mean you won’t tell me,” said Harry.

“I guess that’s it,” admitted Andy, “but the first long flight is
supposed to be a surprise trip and if I told you where and when we were
going to take the air someone with a low wave set might pick it up and
the newspapers would spread it all over their front pages.”

“I get you,” replied Harry. “When shall I come on the air again.”

Andy turned to Bert, cutting off the mike temporarily.

“We ought to be over Washington around six o’clock,” he said. “How about
having Harry tune in then and we’ll talk to him while we’re circling
over the capital?”

“Fine idea,” replied Bert enthusiastically. “Make it six o’clock and
I’ll make a note of it now and put it on my instrument board on the
Goliath. If I don’t I may get so excited I’ll forget to call Harry and
he’ll be sitting around out there in the ocean wondering what has

Andy cut in the mike again.

“Turn on your juice tomorrow morning at six o’clock, eastern standard
time,” he told Harry. “I’m going to sign off now. We’re rolling out
early in the morning and I need a little ‘shut-eye’.”

Andy, accompanied by Bert and Serge, made a final inspection of the
Goliath. Everything was in readiness for the early morning flight. They
returned to their rooms at the hotel but sleep was a long time in coming
for Andy. He had worked so many long months over the plans and on the
actual construction of the Goliath that their realization had seemed,
until now, an almost unattainable dream. But now the Goliath was ready
to claim its place as the king of all the man-made crafts which cruised
the heavens for only that afternoon the great dirigible had tested its
wings and found them strong and reliable. On the morrow it would sail
away into the eastern sky on its first long trip.

Andy finally fell asleep but in his ears was the steady beat of the
Goliath’s engines, the sweetest music of all to him.

Bert had left a call at the hotel desk for 1:45 o’clock and he was at
his receiving set promptly at two for the special meteorological report
from Washington.

The report promised fair weather with a light west wind and an unlimited

Bert copied the report in triplicate, placed one copy in his own files
for a record and hastened back to the hotel with the other two. He
awakened Andy and read the report to the assistant pilot.

“That means we sail at three,” said Andy, as he rubbed the sleep from
his eyes and hurriedly got into his clothes.

“I’ll go wake Dad and Captain Harkins,” he added.

“Here’s a copy of the report for them,” said Bert as he handed Andy the
third tissue he had made.

Andy awakened his father and the commander of the Goliath and they
agreed that weather conditions were ideal for the flight to Washington.

By two-thirty the hangar was ablaze with light as the members of the
crew, their eyes still heavy with sleep, hurried to their posts. Motors
were given a final going over, rigging was thoroughly checked, the water
ballasts tanks and the water condenser at the top of the big bag were
inspected. Finally the Goliath was pronounced ready to go.

At two forty-five the big doors at the end of the hangar started to roll
back on their tracks and Andy, from his post in the control room, could
hear the roar of engines as the army pilots, assigned to fly with the
Goliath on any of its longer trips, warmed up their craft. Four of the
army planes under the command of Lieutenant Crummit would accompany the
Goliath on the trip to Washington.

The air corps board which was to pass on the performance of the
dirigible climbed aboard. Captain Harkins took his place at the main
control station and Andy’s whistle shrilled for the ground crew to take

The whistle sounded again and the tractor-truck with the portable
mooring mast lurched into motion and the Goliath moved slowly ahead. The
big ship was walked out into the soft moonlight, which bathed it with
its radiance.

Andy gave a general order for the 12 engine rooms to stand by. Then
followed the order to start the engines and the night was broken by the
subdued roar of the powerful motors.

“All lights out except the riding lights,” said Captain Harkins and Andy
turned to the bank of switches to carry out the command. Only the shaded
lights over the instruments in the control room and those in the engine
rooms were left on.

Down the field Andy could see the sputtering stream of fire from the
exhausts of the four army planes which were to escort them on the flight
to Washington. They would take off as soon as the Goliath was clear of
the field.

Reports checked back to Andy from the engine rooms indicated that every
motor was functioning perfectly and Andy relayed the report on to
Captain Harkins.

Bert, who had kept tuned in on Washington, hurried into the control
room, a hastily penciled message in his hand.

Captain Harkins took the message, held it down under one of the shaded
lights, and read it aloud so that everyone in the control room could

“Weather from Kentucky east to Atlantic seaboard fair; light west wind;
unlimited visibility.”

“The weather reports continues favorable,” said Captain Harkins. Then,
turning to Andy, he said:

“Give the signal for the ground crew to let go.”

Andy stepped to the open window. In the moonlight below he could see the
line of workmen stretched back into the shadows under the great hulk.
His whistle shrilled the release signal. The ground crew let go their
hold on the great gas bag and at the same moment the operator of the
mooring mast released the automatic coupling.

There was only the slightest tremble as the Goliath started upward. The
ground dropped silently away. Below Andy could see the streaks of flame
from the exhausts of the fast army planes. A few lights glowed in
Bellevue itself but the rest of the country seemed asleep. The Goliath
rose to a level with the hills which enclosed the valley and drifted
steadily upward, the beat of its engines muffled by the interior engine
room as the powerful motors waited for the command to start driving the
dirigible through the air.

“Tell the engine rooms to stand by,” said Captain Harkins. A moment
later Andy got the command of slow speed ahead and he felt the Goliath
gather itself for the trip through the night. The big ship felt steadier
with the power on and he leaned from his window to listen to the steady
monotone of the muffled exhausts.

Lights of the field drifted out of sight and they slipped over the hills
on the start of their surprise visit to Washington. Gradually the speed
was stepped up. Forty, fifty, sixty miles an hour they pushed their way
through the moonlit sky, soaring through the heavens. The altimeter
showed a steady climb and Captain Harkins kept the nose of the Goliath
up until they had reached the ten thousand foot level. At that height
the muffled sound of the airship’s engines could not be heard on the
ground and it was doubtful if anyone would see the great silver craft
slipping through the sky.

The army planes caught up with them, circled around once or twice, and
then climbed five thousand feet above the Goliath, riding the high
heavens in unceasing vigilance.

Bert came into the control room again and spoke to Captain Harkins.

“Washington wants to know what’s up,” said Bert. “What shall I tell

Captain Harkins looked at his watch. It was three-thirty.

“Tell them they’ll have a surprise for breakfast,” he said, and Bert
returned to his radio cubicle to dispatch the message.

The army inspectors were busy going over the Goliath, checking every
detail of the airship’s operation, rate of climb, maneuverability,
speed, engine performance, fuel consumption and the hundred and one
specifications which Uncle Sam had decided must be met by the Goliath
before it would be acceptable and the remainder of the federal
appropriation paid to the National Airways.

With the engines thoroughly warmed to their task. Captain Harkins
increased the speed until the Goliath was racing along at an even 100
miles an hour. There was no sense of motion or undue speed; only the
ground slipping away beneath in an ever-changing pattern of lights and
shadows. Occasionally the streaking lights of a train would be visible
or a larger town could cast its reflection upward, but Captain Harkins
shifted his course to avoid the larger cities. Some enterprising
newspaperman might catch the muffled beat of the engines and take the
surprise element out of their visit to the capital.

Andy checked their position on the map and stepped over to Captain

“We’ll be over Washington about five-thirty if we maintain our present
rate of speed,” he said.

“That’s too early,” replied the commander. “Order the engines down to
half speed. We can speed up later if we find we’re a little behind.”

Andy phoned the order to the engine rooms and the Goliath slowed down to
a steady fifty miles an hour, with the distance slipping off its
silvered sides like magic miles.

The assistant pilot got permission to leave his post and make a tour of
inspection. He stopped at Bert’s cubby on his way back into the

“Washington is about crazy with curiosity,” grinned Bert, who had a
headset on, “He knows we’ve left the field because our signals are
stronger but he doesn’t believe we’re on our way east. Bet he stretches
his neck when we arrive.”

“A good many thousand people are going to have Stiff necks before the
day’s over,” smiled Andy. “See you later. I’m going to make a swing
around this big weiner.”

All lights in the main gondola, except those in the control and radio
rooms were out, but enough moonlight came through the windows of the
promenade deck for Andy to see his way clearly back to the main catwalk
in the interior. The catwalk was well lighted and he passed along under
the towering gas cells, filled with the precious helium. The stress and
strain meters showed that the duralumin framework was reacting even more
favorably than they had dared hope to under the test of actual flight.

Andy continued on until he was in the middle of the ship where the great
cargo hold was located. It yawned an empty, dimly lighted space. In the
fore part were the quarters for the members of the crew and officers and
Andy stepped into the tiny cabin he shared with Bert. The night had been
raw when he started and he had put on an extra jacket of heavy brown
suede but it was not needed now for with their approach to the eastern
seaboard the temperature was climbing steadily.

After leaving his cabin, Andy ran up one of the ladders which led to the
top of the dirigible and its observation cockpits. He saw the shadow of
someone ahead of him and discovered that Serge, who had been making a
trip through the interior, could not resist the temptation and had also
gone up top.

“You Americans should be very proud of the Goliath,” said Serge. “I have
never dreamed of anything so complete. It is a Pullman of the air; every
comfort thought of and anticipated.”

“The thing that pleases me,” said Andy, “is that the ship is so far
exceeding every specification set for it. The army men haven’t said very
much but I can tell that they are highly pleased.”

They remained up top for ten of fifteen minutes as the new king of the
skies slid through its domain. The sky was reddening in the east with
the approach of the new day. The mountains were in the west, smeared
with the sullen shadows of a night which seemed reluctant to leave.
Before them stretched the smoother country of Virginia.

“We’re climbing again,” said Andy. “Captain Harkins must be going up so
high we won’t be heard or seen on the ground.”

The army planes, faithful guardians through the night, circled far

“I don’t envy those chaps,” grinned Serge. “We are moving so slowly they
must find it hard to stay anywhere near us. Lieutenant Crummit told me
their low cruising speed was 100 miles an hour. Look how they zig-zag
back and forth.”

“They’ll leave us when we get over Washington and drop down on Bolling
field to refuel,” said Andy. “By the time we get back to Bellevue
they’ll be pretty much all in. Handling one of those delicate pursuit
ships for eight or ten hours is no picnic.”

The red disk of the sun popped into view and Andy and Serge left the
observation cockpit and returned to the control room. Captain Harkins
had hardly moved since leaving Bellevue but now he turned the main
controls over to Andy.

“The course is north, northeast,” he said. “Hold her as she is and at
12,000 feet.”

“North by northeast,” replied Andy, “and at 12,000 feet. Yes sir.”

The steward had been busy for the last hour and a hot breakfast was
served to the army observers and officers of the dirigible in the main
dining salon while the crew had its breakfast in the dining room

Bert brought Andy a cup of coffee and a sandwich but the assistant pilot
was too interested in the way the Goliath handled to think of asking for
relief so he could go back and have the hot cereal, toast and jam that
the others enjoyed.

He was master of their dirigible, the king of the skies, the greatest
airship ever built by man! Andy’s hands firmly grasped the wheels which
controlled the elevators and the rudder. The Goliath responded easily
and he swung it a point or two off course to see just how it handled.

Captain Harkins returned from breakfast while Andy was bringing the
Goliath back on course.

“Experimenting a little to see how the big boy handles?” asked the

“I couldn’t resist,” replied Andy.

“I know how you feel,” smiled Captain Harkins. “I did a little of it
myself while we were over the mountains.” He turned to Serge.

“Step up here and take control,” he told the young Rubanian, whose
mission had once been the destruction of the craft in which they now
rode in comfort and security.

Serge smiled gratefully as he accepted Captain Harkins’ invitation. It
had been months since he had stood at the controls of a dirigible. The
last time had been early in the winter when he had guided one of the
large Blenkkos over Kratz, the capital of Rubania. The day following
that trip he had been ordered into the Gerka and then put on the long
distance planes, with the result that he was now in the United States, a
member of the crew of the Goliath. It all seemed like a vague dream, his
long flight across the ocean, his acceptance at Bellevue as a civilian
observer from Friedrichshafen and the final discovery of his identity by
Andy and the downfall of Alex Reikoff, dictator of Rubania. Within the
hour he would soar over Washington, the capital of the United States,
and he felt his body glow with the happiness and contentment that was

Captain Harkins checked the position of the Goliath and ordered a slight
increase in speed. The sun cleared away the morning mists and the entire
countryside lay below them, clothed with the green freshness of the

The commander took over the controls and Andy returned to his station at
Captain Harkin’s right where he was in a position to relay instantly
orders to the engine crews.

Andy, watching ahead intently, was the first to catch the white gleam of
the Washington monument and a minute later the dome of the capitol was
sighted. The Potomac curved lazily below and they soared over
Alexandria, Va; In order to reach Washington at six, Captain Harkins had
dipped further into Virginia than he had first intended and approached
Washington from the south and east.

The assistant pilot of the Goliath had made many air trips to Washington
but he had never viewed the city from that height and he marveled at the
beauty of the capital; its great, gleaming white buildings, its broad
boulevards and its stately memorials.

It was just six o’clock when Bert hurried out of the radio room.

“Harry just came in on the air,” he said. “Can you get off a minute and
we’ll say good morning to him?”

Serge relieved Andy at the phones and the assistant pilot accompanied
Bert back to the radio cubby, where he was handed a headset.

“Harry wants to know what’s up?” chuckled Bert.

“All right,” grinned Andy. “Cut him in and then listen to him explode.”

Bert made the necessary adjustments and Andy heard Harry’s familiar

“Hello, hello, hello,” said Andy. “This is the dirigible Goliath, now
over the city of Washington, in a special broadcast to the Arctic
submarine Neptune, en route from Brooklyn, New York, to Plymouth,
England, on the first leg of its trip to the North pole where it will be
met this summer by the Goliath for an exchange of mail. This is a
beautifully clear spring morning with a light west wind. We are paying a
surprise visit to the capital after an unannounced departure this
morning at three o’clock from the Goliath’s home field at Bellevue, Ky.”

Andy heard an excited exclamation and then Harry, now far out to sea in
the Neptune, started plying him with questions.

“Are you really over Washington now? How is the Goliath behaving? Why
didn’t you tell a fellow what you were going to do?”

One by one Andy answered them and before he signed off Harry gave three
stirring cheers for the Goliath and the success of its first long

“The weather is still bad,” he said as he signed off, “and if you don’t
get me at eight tonight, don’t worry. I’m more than a little seasick and
I may not feel up to talking with anyone but I’ll be on sure tomorrow
morning at eight.”

Andy met his father on the way back to the control room and found him

“The army board is more than enthusiastic about the performance,” he
told Andy, “and there is no question but what we will get an immediate
approval and payment of the balance of the government appropriation.”

“I’m mighty glad to know that, Dad,” replied Andy, “for I realize how
much the success of the Goliath means to you. It will prove the
practicability of these big ships for commercial service and mean we can
build more of them for National Airways.”

When Andy returned to his post in the control room, they were circling
over the heart of the city and losing altitude rapidly for Captain
Harkins was coming down to give the early morning risers a close view of
the world’s largest airship.

They swung out over the Potomac and the crew of the night boat, up from
Norfolk, Va., which was just steaming into the tidal basin, waved as the
Goliath drifted overhead, its speed now cut down to a mere thirty miles
an hour. They cruised over the city at a thousand feet.

News of the Goliath’s arrival spread rapidly and hundreds of people
flocked into the streets to see the big airship.

Captain Harkins headed for the White House and dropped the airship down
to seven hundred and fifty feet. Back of the White House a group of men
ceased their game of medicine ball to gaze up at the great silver hulk.

Andy nudged Serge and pointed downward.

“There’s the president and his ‘medicine ball’ cabinet,” he said.

“What kind of a cabinet is that?” asked Serge.

“It’s the group of men with which the president plays medicine ball,”
explained Andy. “They get together every morning for their exercise.
There’s usually the president’s personal physician, at least one of his
private secretaries and several cabinet members and usually a justice of
the supreme court.”

Officers and crew of the Goliath lined the windows as they passed over
the White House and waved at the group below, which returned the
greeting enthusiastically.

Captain Harkins dipped the bow of the airship in salute and then threw
over the elevator controls and sent the Goliath to a safer altitude. For
an hour they cruised over the capital and its environs, now swinging
down into Virginia, idling slowly over Arlington and then back over the

Several of the army officers had been in the radio room, getting in
touch with their superiors. When they returned they went into a
conference with Captain Harkins and Andy’s father. The assistant pilot
caught snatches of the conversation. He heard Baltimore, New York and
Philadelphia mentioned and his heart leaped as Captain Harkins turned to
him and handed over the controls.

“Make one more circle over the city,” he said, “and then set your course
for Baltimore.”

“Yes sir,” said Andy. “After Baltimore do we start home?”

“Not yet,” replied Captain Harkins, his fine eyes twinkling. “The army
men are anxious that New York and Philadelphia get a glimpse of the
Goliath so we won’t be home until night.”

They made a final circle of the city and Andy set the course for
Baltimore. Serge, at the telephone, relayed the order for the engines to
increase their speed to eighty miles and hour and in less than half an
hour they were within sight of the city that made the oyster famous.

News that they had headed toward Baltimore had preceded them and the
streets were thick with thousands of people craning their necks to see
the sky king. They gave Baltimore a half hour view at two thousand feet
and by that time the air was full of planes which circled around them.
The faithful army ships had rejoined them and had a busy time chasing
newspaper planes whose ambitious photographers insisted on getting too
close to the Goliath.

The ever-growing procession left Baltimore and headed north for
Philadelphia, which was also given a half hour view of them before they
proceeded on toward New York.

Captain Harkins took charge again and set the speed so the Goliath would
reach the metropolis during the noon hour when the thousands of down
town workers would be out to lunch and free to watch the maneuvers of
the airship.

Bert stuck his head out of the radio room and called to Andy.

“I’ve just picked up a message from Washington to Lakehurst,” he said.
“The Akron and the Los Angeles are being ordered out to join us in a
parade over New York.”

“I’d almost like to be on the ground to see it,” said Andy, “but I guess
I’ll be contented and stay here.”

The sun mounted toward its zenith as New Jersey unfolded below them and
the hangars at Lakehurst grew from tiny dots into good-sized mushrooms,
outside which two silver ships were starting to take the air. By the
time they were over the home of the naval aircraft, the Akron and Los
Angeles were at the two thousand foot level and Captain Harkins
radiophoned to both ships to decide on the formation. It was agreed that
the Los Angeles would lead with the Akron next and the Goliath, the
giant of them all, bringing up the rear, a pageant of the progress of

The Los Angeles, slimmer and more graceful than the bulkier Akron or the
giant Goliath, took the lead and the other two ships fell in behind.

It was a magnificent fleet that paraded over the Jersey flats that
spring morning. To the east rolled the sparkling waters of the Atlantic
while ahead of them loomed the spires of Greater New York.

The aerial argosy swung out over the bay, dipped in salute as it circled
the Statue of Liberty, and then proceeded over the Battery and up the
man-made canyon that is known the world over as Broadway.

Whistles of tugs and ferryboats blended in a concerted shriek of welcome
and the streets below were thronged with humanity. Traffic in down town
New York was at a standstill, tied up so hopelessly that it took hours
to get it moving again.

They passed the mooring mast atop the Empire State at fifty miles an
hour and then dipped slightly to the west to look down on Times Square.
Central park displayed its greenery ahead of them and in another minute
they were over Riverside drive and the Hudson.

Captain Harkins shifted the course and they turned and cut across
Manhattan to give Brooklyn a view of the Goliath. For an hour and a half
the three dirigibles zig-zagged back and forth over the metropolitan
area. At one-thirty the command was given to start for home and with the
final scream of whistles in their ears, the crew of the Goliath watched
the mighty buildings of Manhattan disappear behind them.

Lunch was served while they were on the return to Lakehurst, where the
Los Angeles and the Akron left them and they proceeded on toward
Bellevue accompanied only by the four army planes.

Captain Harkins set a bee-line course that took them over New Jersey,
west of Philadelphia, and across the heart of the mountains to their
sheltered valley home in Kentucky.

Bert had obtained a mid-afternoon weather forecast from Washington,
which he handed to Andy. The prediction was none too favorable. A storm
had swept down off the Great Lakes and was now over Ohio. If it
continued its present rate and course it would bisect the path of the
Goliath. Andy passed the forecast on to Captain Harkins, whose lips
tightened into a firm, straight line.

“Looks like we’ll be in for some nasty weather before we get home,”
observed the commander of the Goliath. “Keep in touch with Washington,
Bert, and advise me at once of any changes in the weather report.”

Captain Harkins ordered the speed stepped up until they were doing an
even ninety an hour. In calm weather they would have been averaging a
hundred but a westerly wind cut them down ten miles an hour.

Clouds rolled out of the west and the sun was obscured by the drifting
banks of gray.

Bert came back to the control room to say that weather reports now
indicated spotty weather all of the way home with local showers and

They ran under a bank of rain clouds and the Goliath got its first taste
of dirty weather, but it rode through the shower without difficulty, the
rain shooting off its metalized sides in steady sheets.

Dusk found them two hundred miles from Bellevue with storms all around
them. Lightning was flashing steadily in the northwest and the sky was
full of wind squalls with the clouds rolling and twisting in an ominous

“Just the kind of a night for a tornado,” Andy heard his father tell
Captain Harkins in a low voice. The Commander of the Goliath, his face
lined with worry, nodded.

The storm was thickening. It would break at any minute. They had stuck
to their course as long as they dared before Captain Harkins gave the
orders to run before the storm. The Goliath heeled sharply as a vicious
gust of wind caught it broadside while it was circling. Then they were
running into the southeast with the storm behind them.

Electrical interference was so heavy that it was impossible for Bert to
communicate with the Washington weather bureau and learn the conditions
they were running into. They simply had to take the course of the least
resistance and hope that they could escape the fury of the elements.

For half an hour the Goliath sped through the heavy night. Rain beat
against its silvered sides and flashes of lightning cast their glare
over the boiling clouds. If the big airship returned to Bellevue without
mishap it would certainly have won its laurels on its maiden flight.

The weather was getting thicker and Captain Harkins ordered Andy and
Serge into the observation cockpits on top of the big bag.

“Keep in constant touch with me,” he ordered. “If you see a break in the
storm let me know and we’ll try and run through it.”

From their lonely posts atop the dirigible Andy and Serge, clad in
oilskins, braced themselves against the heat of the rain and the rush of
the wind. With headsets on their ears and transmitters slung across
their chests, they kept in touch with the main control room. All around
them was a sea of churning clouds, rolling thunder, bolts of glittering
blue and through it all the steady beat of the powerful engines as they
drove the Goliath on through the night.

They were at the seven thousand foot level and Captain Harkins warned
them he was going to attempt to get above the storm. The nose shot
skyward and they pushed their way up through the clouds. Eight, nine and
ten thousand feet dropped away, but even at that level the storm raged.
There was no escape. Flickers of static played along the runway atop the
Goliath and Andy was grateful that the gas cells were filled with the
non-explosive helium.

At ten thousand feet the Goliath was making the fight for its life.
Grim-faced engineers watched over their engines while in the control
room Captain Harkins and Andy’s father stood side by side as they guided
the great airship through the storm. The army officers, grouped close
behind, watched every move for their lives hung in the balance that
fateful night. Would the storm rip the Goliath asunder and drop it, a
broken, lifeless thing, like it had the Shenandoah? Would their fate be
the same? Those questions were in the mind of every man.

The storm increased in violence and Andy, atop the dirigible, felt the
frame trembling under the terrific blows from the wind. He looked about
desperately for some break in the clouds that would let them through to
safety. The Goliath was making a brave battle but it was only a question
of how long it could stand such a battering.

Bert, down in the control room, was on the other end of the phone, and
the news he gave Andy was none too encouraging. No. 5 engine had cut
out. The crew reported a burned out bearing, which meant that the engine
was disabled for the remainder of the trip. Ten minutes later No. 9 on
the opposite side developed trouble and had to be shut down. They were
cruising with 10 motors running, ample power for any average storm but
this spring disturbance of the weather was anything but usual.

An occasional brilliant glare of lightning would reveal Serge at his
observation post further back along the top and Andy wondered how the
young Rubanian was faring. If they could only locate a break in the
clouds. Andy’s eyes swept the darkness again but it was to no avail.

The Goliath heeled savagely and he clung to the edge of the cockpit.
They were knifing off to the right. The speed of the motors had
increased. Could the men in the control room have sighted a break or had
Serge’s eyes been keener than his own?

The Goliath was running for its life, pulsating to the throbbing power
of the engines. They must be doing well over a hundred, thought Andy.

The clouds ahead thinned; the rain lessened, the force of the wind
abated and in ten more minutes they were out of the main storm, sailing
through a light spring shower. Andy dropped down on a seat in the
observation cockpit. He was exhausted for he had fought every step with
the Goliath and now that safety was at hand he felt a great wave of
fatigue sweep over him.

After a five minute rest he descended into the heart of the dirigible
and then made his way forward to the control room. Captain Harkins was
still at the controls but the lines of his face had softened.

“We’re through the worst of it,” he told Andy. “We’ll loaf along here
until the weather north and west of us clears enough so we can get back
to Bellevue. You take charge while I go back for a bite to eat. I’m
pretty much all in.”

All Andy knew was that they were somewhere over the western part of the
Carolinas, and he let the Goliath ease through the night at a bare
thirty-five miles an hour. The rain ceased and the moon was struggling
to break through the clouds.

Bert had managed to get in touch with Washington and allayed the fears
of officials at the capital. He also learned that the four army planes
which had accompanied the Goliath had landed safely in West Virginia.
This was good news to Andy, who in his concern over the safety of the
Goliath had forgotten the army flyers.

Serge came down from his observation post and Captain Harkins praised
him highly.

“It was Serge,” he told Andy, “who spotted the break in the storm. If it
hadn’t been for his keen eyes one guess is as good as another as to
where we would be now.”

By ten o’clock the storms had drifted away and they were free to start
the return to Bellevue. The trouble on No. 9 motor had been repaired and
with only No. 5 out, they sped toward home.

The lights of Bellevue came into view at eleven-fifteen and ten minutes
later the Goliath drifted down to stick its squat nose into the
automatic coupling on the portable mooring mast. Eager hands steadied
the great ship as it was towed into the hangar and lodged securely in
its berth.

Before leaving the hangar, a thorough inspection was made to ascertain
if any sections had undergone damage during the storm. The outer fabric
was in perfect condition and outside of the failure of No. 5 motor, the
Goliath had won its laurels in its first long flight.

News of the Goliath’s victorious battle against the most severe storm of
the spring was spread on the front page of every newspaper in the
country the next day and special writers and correspondents for the big
press associations besieged the military patrol at Bellevue. Venturesome
photographers even attempted to fly over the plant and snap pictures of
the hangar but the army planes soon put an end to that stunt.

The insistence of the reporters compelled the attention of Andy’s father
and Captain Harkins, and they called Andy into their conference. He
advised that reporters be escorted through the hangar and taken on a
thorough trip over the dirigible.

“We want the public to have faith in the Goliath,” counseled Andy, “and
the reporters must have the facts if they are to write intelligently.”

“I believe you’re right,” agreed his father and Captain Harkins added a
word of approval.

Andy and Bert were designated as the tour conductors and they met the
reporters at the hotel. Nine men and two women were in the group they
escorted to the plant.

Andy was amused by their exclamations of wonder at the size of the
Goliath and he was pleased at their open praise of the beauty of the
great ship. The inspection tour required two hours that afternoon for
they went into every part of the dirigible, even up to the observation
cockpits on top and several of the more daring reporters walking along
the upper catwalk.

When they returned to the main cabin, they found that Captain Harkins
had ordered the steward to serve tea. It was late afternoon by the time
the reporters departed, but they left highly elated over their
expedition and promised that glowing stories of the Goliath would appear
in their papers and on the press association wires.

When they had gone, Andy and Bert sat down on the steps of the hotel.
The tension of fighting with the Goliath through the storm of the night
before had carried them along but now they relaxed and an enveloping
cloak of fatigue settled over them.

“I’m so tired I can hardly wiggle,” groaned Bert.

“I’m just about that bad,” agreed Andy. “Believe me, I’ll go to bed early

“Wonder what’s happened to Harry and the Neptune?” said Bert. “I managed
to roll out this morning in time to tune in at eight o’clock but I
didn’t get even a peep out of him.”

“I must have been sound asleep when you got up,” said Andy, “for I
didn’t hear a thing.”

“I came back to bed after failing to get in touch with Harry,” replied
Bert. “I’ll try again tonight at eight. Hope I have better luck. I
wouldn’t trust one of those tin fish as far as I could throw my hat.
They don’t look safe to me.”

“I expect a sailor feels the same way about an airship,” said Andy. “It
all depends on what you’re used to.”

After dinner that night Andy’s father announced that special tests would
be made the next week, including the attaching of a plane to the Goliath
while in flight. This had been successfully accomplished by the Akron
and they expected no difficulty. The special rigging was already at
Bellevue and it would be only the matter of a few days to complete the
installation. The Goliath differed from the Akron in one capacity. Where
the Akron could carry a single plane slung underneath in a special
carriage, the Goliath had a special hold midships where the planes could
be raised and stored. It could accommodate four fast pursuit ships,
launching them as it sped through the air at one hundred miles an hour.
It was from this viewpoint that the Goliath held unusual value to the
army officers.

Shortly before eight o’clock Andy and Bert went to the radio room, where
Bert tuned up his receiver for a talk with Harry, now far out to sea in
the Neptune.

He turned on the power at eight o’clock and waited patiently for a
signal from the submarine. When it failed to come he tried calling Harry
but even then failed to get a reply.

Bert worked for an hour hoping that he could get some answer from the
Neptune but at nine o’clock was forced to admit defeat.

“I’m getting worried,” confessed Bert. “It was too stormy to make
contact last night so it’s been nearly 36 hours since we’ve heard from
Harry and anything can happen out there in mid-ocean.”

“Don’t let your imagination run away with you,” counseled Andy, who
admitted to himself that he was afraid some accident had befallen the
Neptune. “They’ve probably run into a streak of bad weather and may have
submerged to try and ride it out.”

“I’ll try again the first thing in the morning,” said Bert. “We’ve just
got to hear from Harry,” he added desperately.

In spite of their fatigue, Andy and Bert passed a restless night and
they were up with the first sign of the dawn. Without waiting for
breakfast they hurried to the radio room where Bert tuned in on the wave
length used for communication between the station at Bellevue and the

“Someone’s on the air,” he said quickly. “I can hear the hum of his
transmitter; sounds like Harry’s set.”

“Hello, Neptune,” said Bert. “This is the station at Bellevue, Ky.,
calling for the submarine Neptune, now en route to Plymouth, England.
Hello, Neptune, hello!”

Andy bent close to the loud speaker, waiting eagerly for the ether waves
to bring a reply to Bert’s call.

It failed to come and Bert repeated his call. Still there was no answer
and the call went out a third and then a fourth time.

“I can’t understand his failure to reply,” said Bert. “His set is

“Try it once more,” urged Andy. “Maybe we’ll have better luck.”

Bert repeated his call and then gazed at Andy incredulously as Harry’s
familiar voice replied almost immediately.

“You must be a prophet,” Bert told Andy. “Where in the dickens have you
been for the last two days?” he asked Harry. “We’ve been scared stiff
for fear your tin fish might have sunk.”

“No such luck,” replied Harry. “I’ve been so seasick I couldn’t even sit
up. This is my first message since I last talked with you two days ago.”

“Been running into rough weather?” asked Andy.

“I never dreamed the ocean could be so nasty,” replied Harry in a hollow
voice. “We’ve been tossed around like a cork and half the crew has been
under the weather. This morning is the first time in 48 hours we could
cruise on the surface with any degree of comfort.”

“Don’t blame us for your predicament,” said Bert unfeelingly. “I warned
you to keep out of the submarine. But, no, you knew best.”

“Listen,” replied Harry. “I couldn’t let you go to the North Pole and
slip one over on me so when I heard the Neptune was going to make the
trip I signed up. You fellows wait until old man weather gets a real
good shot at you and you won’t think it is quite so funny.”

“We’ve had our turn,” said Andy, and he told Harry in detail of the
events which had occurred on their return from New York and of their
strenuous battle against the elements.

“Looks to me like the Goliath and the Neptune proved their ability at
about the same time,” said Harry. “After the last two days in the
Neptune, I’ve got every confidence in it.”

“I called you for fifteen minutes before you answered,” said Bert. “Your
transmitter was on the air but I couldn’t get any reply.”

“The answer is simple,” replied Harry. “I wasn’t here. As I said before,
I’ve been feeling pretty rocky. Well, I came up to the radio room and
turned on the set, intending to call you. Then I got shaky again and had
to go back and lie down. Guess I forgot to turn off the set and it kept
buzzing away.”

“How much longer will it take you to reach Plymouth?” asked Andy.

“With the delay we’ve encountered on account of the storm, it will take
nearly another week,” replied Harry, “and here’s hoping that we’ll have
fair weather from now on.”

They signed off a few minutes later after agreeing to talk again that
night at eight o’clock.

The remainder of that day and the rest of the week was devoted to the
installation of the special landing apparatus which would snare a plane
out of mid-air and haul it safely into the inner hold of the Goliath.

Andy and Bert talked with Harry every day and learned that the Neptune,
aided by favorable weather, was making good progress. The sea had
steadied down and Harry had found his sea legs and his appetite had

“Which means,” laughed Bert, “that the cook aboard that sub is going to
have a man-sized job keeping Harry filled with food.”

Air corps officers from various posts flew in to inspect the Goliath
while the members of the official board which had accompanied the
airship on its flight to New York remained at hand for further tests. It
was Tuesday of the following week before the installation of the special
gear had been completed and the Goliath pronounced ready for further

The pursuit ship of Lieutenant Crummit was also fitted with special
rigging and when this was completed they were ready for another trial.

Tuesday was an ideal spring day with plenty of sunshine and only a
slight breeze from the south. The Goliath was walked out of its hangar
and, with Captain Harkins at the controls and Andy at his side, made its
third trip aloft.

When they were well under way, Andy went back midships to supervise the
contact with the pursuit plane.

Lieutenant Crummit buzzed nervously about the Goliath in his fast
single-seater. The airship gradually stepped up its speed until it was
doing a hundred miles an hour, going fast enough for the contact to be

Back in the cavernous hold of the Goliath a tense crew was waiting to
leap to its task. Andy’s father came back to watch the operation.

A great arm hung beneath the dirigible and from this arm extended a
V-shaped coupler into which the coupler on the plane would fit.
Synchronization of speed was the main thing upon which success depended
and it was up to Lieutenant Crummit to creep up under the Goliath at
just a trifle more than a hundred miles an hour.

From the observation windows in the keel Andy watched the approach of
the pursuit plane. Lieutenant Crummit was coming in as slowly as he
dared, maneuvering carefully in an attempt to make the coupling on the
first contact.

The triangular coupling mounted on the upper wing of the army plane
slipped into the “V” of the arm below the Goliath. There was a slight
jolt at the shock of contact and Lieutenant Crummit, assured that the
coupling was fast, cut the switches on his motor and looked up

Andy threw over the switch on the main control. The large trap door at
the bottom of the Goliath rolled back. Simultaneously the arm which held
the army plane fast in its grip moved upward rapidly, bringing the
pursuit ship with it. In another thirty seconds the army fighter was
deposited safely in the hold, the trap door was back in place and the
powerful crane, or arm, which had caught and lifted the plane, was back
in position.

Lieutenant Crummit leaped from the cockpit and ran toward Andy.

“That’s the greatest aerial stunt I’ve ever seen,” he said. “Why, it’s
as simple as falling off a log. I couldn’t miss that big ‘V’ and the
next thing I knew the plane was being whirled upward.”

Army officers who had watched the operation from the control room came
back to interview the lieutenant and get his report. It was decided to
repeat the maneuver, only this time the plane would be set into flight
from the Goliath.

The large crane was lifted back into the hold and made fast to the
plane. When Lieutenant Crummit signalled he was ready, Andy opened the
trap door and dropped the plane through. The army flyer switched on his
inertia starter, the warm motor caught the first time over and the
propeller went into its dazzling whirl.

Lieutenant Crummit threw up his left arm as a signal for the release and
the big crane relinquished its grip on the pursuit ship. The army plane
dropped down and away from the Goliath, then climbed and raced wildly
around the mother ship. The Goliath had passed another one of its
exacting tests successfully and Andy returned to the main control room
and relieved Serge, who had taken his place during his absence in the

Instead of heading back for Bellevue, the Goliath swung north and Andy
looked inquiringly at his father, who had just returned from a
conference with the army men.

“We’re going to give Cincinnati a treat,” said the vice president of the
National Airways. “We can make the trip up there and be back home before

With Lieutenant Crummit’s plane and another army craft as escorts, the
Goliath roared northward at a hundred miles an hour, knifing its silver
hull through the lazy, fleecy clouds.

The Ohio river, heavy-burdened with a spring flood, rolled ahead of them
and just beyond was the haze which hung over Cincinnati. It was a
surprise visit but the townspeople were not long in hurrying into the
streets to glimpse the king of the air. They wheeled and turned over
Cincinnati for a half hour before heading back for Bellevue.

Bert, who had left his radio room, leaned out a window and looked down
at the swollen Ohio.

“There’s plenty of water rolling down to the Gulf,” he told Andy, “and
from all reports the Ohio isn’t the only river on a rampage. Almost
every large tributary of the Mississippi is at flood stage, which means
plenty of trouble for people living down in the lower river country. It
will take several days for the flood waters to get there, but when they
do the country is going to forget about the Goliath and think about the

“You’re a cheerful sort of a soul,” smiled Andy.

“Just mark my words,” insisted Bert. “I predict a big flood on the lower
portions of the Mississippi.”

They returned to Bellevue as twilight was draping its mantle of soft
purple over the valley and it was dark, by the time the Goliath was in
its berth.

There were minor adjustments and changes to be made on the Goliath and
the next three days were busy ones for the officers and members of the

Bert’s prediction was coming true, if the stories appearing in the
papers were not exaggerating the situation. From Memphis down the
Mississippi was on a rampage, crashing through the man-made barriers
that had been erected to keep it in its channel and spreading death and
destruction over large areas of fertile land.

The Friday morning paper, which reached Bellevue by bus shortly after
noon, emphasized the need for relief measures, stressing that refugees
were without proper clothes or food. The national Red Cross had stepped
in and was making every effort to relieve the situation but it was
impossible to reach some of the more isolated regions and women and
children were believed to be in want.

“What they need is a dirigible,” said Andy. “Why, we could load the
Goliath with tons of food and clothing, cruise over that area at a low
altitude, and drop supplies for hundreds of refugees.”

“Why don’t you suggest it to your father?” said Bert.

“I’ll do it right now,” said Andy, and he started toward the hotel.

Charles High heard his son’s story without comment and when Andy was
through, spoke with his characteristic decision.

“I’ll put through a call to the national Red Cross office in
Washington,” he said, “and if the need is as serious as you feel, we’ll
start before dawn.”

The national headquarters of the Red Cross confirmed the emergency and
welcomed the offer of the National Airways to send the Goliath into the
flood region. Arrangements were made to bring in supplies on a special
train from Cincinnati and the loading of the Goliath was set for shortly
after midnight.

The special train arrived an hour late and the crew of the airship
worked with feverish haste to transfer the clothes and food from the
express cars to the Goliath. The task was completed at four o’clock and
with the first tints of dawn in the sky, the Goliath was taken out of
its hangar and started on its errand of mercy.

Captain Harkins held the big ship at a steady eighty miles an hour and
by mid-forenoon they were well below Memphis and swinging over the flood
area. The Mississippi had turned its valley into an immense brown lake.
The waters had swilled through towns, inundating streets and sweeping
houses from their foundations.

Many of the towns had been deserted while others, on higher ground, were
completely cut off by the flood. It was to the latter that the Goliath
was directed.

Bert kept in touch with the latest radio reports on the conditions and
the Goliath swung from one village to another. Andy, back in the hold,
superintended the dropping of food and clothes. The food was put into
bundles of clothes and then dropped overboard, the Goliath descending
until it was a bare fifty feet above the towns to which it brought
relief. With motors shut off, it was possible for Andy to carry on a
conversation with the marooned people and ascertain their needs. Serge
was with Andy and they directed the crew in the relief work.

Through the morning and afternoon they worked and their supply of food
and clothing dwindled at a surprising rate. Two more towns to serve and
they would be through. They dropped food and clothing to the first one
and hurried on to supply the second. After that they would start for

Lieutenant Crummit and another army flyer had stuck with them all day
long, leaving only when it was necessary to fly to some city and
replenish their fuel supply, but one of the army pursuit ships had
always been on duty.

A scene of complete desolation greeted them as they neared the last town
to which they were bringing assistance. Flood waters were pouring
through every street and the inhabitants who had not escaped were
huddled on house tops. More than fifty men, women and children were
congregated on the flat roof of a garage, the largest building in the
town. Out of the northwest a chill wind was presaging a raw, bitter
night and Andy shivered as he thought of the suffering which the little
band on the rooftop would undergo before rescuers could reach them by

“Why don’t we drop down and take them aboard?” suggested Bert. “With
much more exposure some of those people will have pneumonia.”

“It might be possible,” agreed Andy. “We’ll see Captain Harkins.”

They presented their suggestion to the commander of the Goliath, and,
after a careful survey, Captain Harkins agreed. Orders were given for
the descent of the Goliath and Andy went back midships to supervise the
dropping of a flexible steel ladder. The Goliath could not land directly
on the roof, but would hover just above it. The refugees would have to
climb the ladder to safety.

With a megaphone in his hands, Andy directed the rescue work. The
Goliath, its motors turning over just enough to hold it above the roof,
hung almost motionless. The excited townspeople grasped the ladder,
which four men held fast to the rooftop. The ladder was none too steady
but the refugees, preferring the climb to the airship to another night
on the rooftop, bravely made their way aloft. Women came up alone with
the boys and girls following them. Babes in arms were carried up by the
men. In fifteen minutes the transfer had been completed, the ladder was
drawn up, the command given to proceed and the refugees hurried forward
into the main cabin where it was warm and where the stewards had
prepared a hot meal.

It was a grateful group that came into the control room later to express
their thanks to Captain Harkins, but the commander referred them to
Andy, saying:

“You can thank Andy High, assistant pilot, for he was the one who
directed the rescue.”

They made the run back to Memphis without difficulty but it was well
after dark when they soared over the city. Bert had radioed the story of
the rescue and the news that they would stop at Memphis and leave the
refugees. The airport was aglow with lights and when the Goliath nosed
down for an easy landing, police were taxed to the utmost to keep back
the cheering throng.

Flashlights boomed as newspaper photographers snapped the refugees as
they disembarked. The Red Cross was on hand to care for the unfortunate
townspeople and after ascertaining that the weather was fair, the
Goliath continued its homeward journey.

The next month was a succession of busy days with further tests for the
giant airship. Reports from Harry indicated the daily progress of the
Neptune toward its goal in the Arctic, first to Plymouth, England, on to
Bergen, Norway, then toward the Arctic with the last stop at King’s Bay,

Preparations at Bellevue were now centering on the flight to the Arctic.
Special oils for the motors were arriving as well as equipment and
clothing for the officers and crew. Insulation of the engine rooms and
the gondola was increased to stand the colder temperatures of the
northland. The tentative date for the start of the flight was set for
July 10th and the month of June rolled away as though on magic wheels.

Harry radioed from King’s Bay that the Neptune was about ready to start
the final dash to the pole. On the 20th of June he reported that they
were nosing out of the bay, running on the surface. A few hours later
came the news that the Coast of Spitzbergen was disappearing over the
horizon and that the Neptune was headed north into the land of eternal
ice and snow.

The exchange of mail by the Goliath and Neptune had attracted the
attention of stamp collectors in all parts of the world and extra mail
clerks were brought to Bellevue to handle the hundreds of letters which
had been sent there for mailing aboard the Goliath, which would transfer
the pouches when it met the Neptune at the North Pole. The amount of
mail had been limited to five tons, a total which was reached long
before the date for closing the pouches was reached. A special
cancellation stamp had been devised to show that the letters had been
sent by the Goliath.

With the Neptune definitely slipping through the broken ice of the
Arctic, the importance of Bert’s task of keeping in touch with the
Neptune increased and he almost lived in the radio room of the Goliath.

The days marched by in a steady procession. Daily reports from Harry
indicated that ice conditions were most favorable and that the Neptune
was finding much clear water. Occasionally it was necessary to dive
under some particularly stubborn ice field but this had not happened

Then things changed; high winds prevailed in the northland; progress was
retarded; ice jammed in front of the Neptune; static set up a wall of
interference that was almost impossible to break through; messages from
Harry were few and far between, and lines of worry deepened as Bert and
Andy waited anxiously in the radio room.

On the 28th of June a wave of static turned back every query sent into
the Arctic. On the 29th the same conditions prevailed. When the static
cleared on the 30th of June, Bert called in vain for the Neptune but
there was no answer.