Tuesday, May 1, 2012

aviation adventure stories

Aviation adventure stories were a popular pulp fiction genre in the 1920s and 1930s. Some were fairly straightforward war adventures usually with a hint of espionage while others added definite elements of weird fiction.

Age of Aces Books have made many of these stories available in book form in the last few years. At their website they have many stories that are in the public domain available for downloading. It’s a genre I’m quite partial to and I’ve been reading quite a few recently. 

Robert J. Hogan's The Spy in the Ointment (originally published in the November 1933 issue of War Birds) is representative of the flying mixed with spying sub-type. Not a great story but a mildly amusing tale of a couple of American pilots doing a spot of espionage behind the German lines in the First World War and almost managing to sabotage each other’s efforts. It’s intended as a humorous story but it tries a bit too hard.

William E. Barrett's Double Death (originally published in the December 1932 issue of Sky Fighters) is much more successful and represents the aviation adventure combined with weird fiction sub-genre, with some science fictional touches.

American squadrons operating on the Italian Front in the First World War are suffering heavy and unexplained losses. Planes seem to just disintegrate or fall out of the sky. They fear the Austrians have developed a powerful secret weapon but the really disturbing and inexplicable thing is that these disasters always happen in pairs. They might lose two aircraft or four aircraft at a time in this mysterious fashion, but never one aircraft, or three aircraft.

 The explanation is delightfully outrageous and wonderfully far-fetched. A very entertaining little tale. 

A genre worth checking out for pulp fans.


  1. Hello,
    I just wanted to take a minute to tell you that you have a great site! Keep up the good work.

    Morocco family tours

  2. I'm looking for any reference to an air race/adventure novel I read as a boy titled "La Golondrina" . I read it in Spanish but it's possible that it was translated from English or French. It may have been published in the 1920's or 1930's. It was quite lengthy and it involved a young pilot in a swept-back-winged prototype that could only fly with a special fuel called "metilita". Aside from many of the particulars of the story, I can't remember much else, even the name of the author, which would instantly solve the problem. I know, this is like trying to hum a song over the telephone, but any help from you--even if it's pointers on how to conduct a better serch--would be much appreciated. Sincerely, Christian Camacho, Miami, Florida.