The Terror in the Air can be found in






The adaptations of high-frequency currents to criminal purposes are almost too numerous to tabulate. Those who are acquainted with the theories and research work of that early scientist, Nikola Tesla, will find this story of absorbing interest.

Why should Norton put a sheet-lead cover over the battery and dynamo on his plane? Was it to ward of death?


CRAIG KENNEDY works on a mystery in which two recent scientific discoveries are involved. One is the application of the physical principles of the gyroscope to bodies traveling through an unstable medium—water or air; and the other we will leave a secret for our readers to discover at the end of the story.

Of course everyone knows that great ships are now being fitted with gigantic gyroscopes which counteract the rolling motion of the boat. Can this instrument be applied to airplanes? Our famous author deals with this question in a very clever way, and at the same time tells us of a terrible danger which might threaten the lives of either air pilots in war-time, or peaceful mail-planes traveling over the continent with valuable cargo.


The rest of us shrank back in momentary fear of the gigantic forces of nature which seemed let loose in the room.

The TERROR in the AIR

By Arthur B. Reeve

"THERE'S something queer about these plane accidents at Belmore Park," mused Kennedy, one evening, as his eye caught a big headline in the last edition of the Star, which I had brought up-town with me.

"Queer?" I echoed, "Unfortunate, terrible, but hardly queer. Why, it is a common saying among the stunt aviators that if they keep at it long enough they will all lose their lives."

"Yes, I know that," rejoined Kennedy; "but, Walter, have you noticed that all these accidents have happened to Norton's new gyroscope machines?"

"Well, what of that?" I replied. "Isn't it just barely possible that Norton is on the wrong track in applying the gyroscope to an airplane? I can't say I know much about either the gyroscope or the airplane, but from what I hear the fellows at the office say it would seem to me that the gyroscope is a pretty good thing to keep off an airplane, not to put on it."

"Why?" asked Kennedy blandly.

"Well, it seems to me, from what the experts say, that anything which tends to keep your machine in one position is just what you don't want in an airplane. What surprises them, they say, is that the thing seems to work so well up to a certain point—that the accidents don't happen sooner. Why, our man on the aviation field tells me that when that poor fellow Browne was killed he had all but succeeded in bringing his machine to a dead stop in the air. In other words, he would have won the Brooks Prize for perfect motionlessness in one place. And then Herrick, the day before, was going about 200 miles an hour when he collapsed. They said it was heart failure. But tonight another expert says in the Star—here, I'll read it: 'The real cause was carbonic-acid-gas poisoning due to the pressure on the mouth from driving fast through the air, and the consequent inability to expel the poisoned air which had been breathed. Air once breathed is practically carbonic-acid-gas. When one is passing rapidly through the air this carbonic-acid-gas is pushed back into the lungs, and only a little can get away because of the rush of air pressure into the mouth. So it is rebreathed, and the result is gradual carbonic-acid poisoning, which produces a kind of narcotic sleep.'"

"Then it wasn't the gyroscope in that case?" said Kennedy with a rising inflection.

"No," I admitted reluctantly, "perhaps not." I could see that I had been rash in talking so long. Kennedy had only been sounding me to see what the newspapers thought of it. His next remark was characteristic.

"Norton has asked me to look into the thing," he said quietly. "If his invention is a failure, he is a ruined man. All his money is in it, he is suing a man for infringing on his patent, and he is liable for damages to the heirs, according to his agreement with Browne and Herrick. I have known Norton some time; in fact, he worked out his ideas at the university physical laboratory. I have flown in his machine, and it is the most marvellous biplane I ever saw. Walter, I want you to get a Belmore Park assignment from the Star and go out to the aviation meet with me to-morrow. I'll take you on the field, around the machines—you can get enough local color to do a dozen Star specials later on. I may add that devising a flying-machine capable of remaining stationary in the air means a revolution that will relegate all other machines to the scrapheap. From a military point of view it is the one thing necessary to make the airplane the superior in every respect to the dirigible."

The regular contests did not begin until the afternoon, but Kennedy and I decided' to make a day of it, and early the next morning we were speeding out to the park where the flights were being held.

We found Charles Norton, the inventor, anxiously at work with his mechanicians in the big temporary shed that had been accorded him, and was dignified with the name of hangar.

$25,000 to Win

"I KNEW you would come, Professor," he exclaimed, running forward to meet us.

"Of course," echoed Kennedy. "I'm too much interested in this invention of yours not to help you, Norton. You know what I've always thought of it—I've told you often that it is the most important advance since the original discovery by the Wrights that the airplane could be balanced by warping the planes."

"I'm just fixing up my third machine," said Norton. "If anything happens to it, I shall lose the prize, at least as far as this meet is concerned, for I don't believe I shall get my fourth and newest model from the makers in time. Anyhow, if I did I couldn't pay for it—I am ruined, if I don't win that twenty-five-thousand-dollar Brooks Prize. And, besides, a couple of a...

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