A Trial Flight
For a few moments after their exclamations of surprise Tom
and Mr. Damon did not know what else to say. They stared
about in amazement, hardly able to believe that the shed
could be empty. They had expected to see some form of
aeroplane in it, and Tom was almost sure his eyes would meet
a reproduction of his Humming Bird, made from the stolen
"Can it be possible there's nothing here?" went on Tom,
after a long pause. He could not seem to believe it
"Evidently not," answered Mr. Damon, as he advanced toward
the center of the big building and flashed the light on all
sides. "You can see for yourself."
"Or, rather, you can't see," spoke the youth. "It isn't
here, that's sure. You can't stick an aeroplane, even as
small a one as my Humming Bird, in a corner. No; it isn't
"Well, we'll have to look further," went on Mr. Damon. "I
But a sudden noise near the big main doors of the shed
"Come on!" exclaimed Tom in a whisper. "Some one's
coining! They may see us! Let's get out!"
Mr. Damon released the pressure on the spring switch, and
the light went out. After waiting a moment to let their eyes
become accustomed to the darkness, he and Tom stole to the
door by which they had entered. As they swung it cautiously
open they again heard the noise near the main portals by
which Andy had formerly taken in and out the Anthony, as he
had named the aeroplane in which he and his father went to
Alaska, where, like Tom's craft, it was wrecked.
"Some one is coming in!" whispered Tom.
Hardly had he spoken when a light shone in the direction
of the sound. The illumination came from a big lantern of
the ordinary kind, carried by some one who had just entered
"Can you see who it is?" whispered Mr. Damon, peering
eagerly forward; too eagerly, for his foot struck against
the wooden side wall with a loud hang.
"Who's there?" suddenly demanded the person carrying the
He raised it high above his head, in order to cast the
gleams into all the distant corners. As he did so a ray of
light fell upon his face. "Andy Foger!" gasped Tom in a
Andy must have heard, for he ran forward just as Tom and
Mr. Damon slipped out.
"Hold on! Who are you?" came in the unmistakable tones of
the red-haired bully.
"I don't think we're going to tell," chuckled Tom softly,
as he and his friend sped off into the darkness. They were
not followed, and as they looked back they could see a light
bobbing about in the shed.
"He's looking for us!" exclaimed Mr. Damon with an inward
laugh. "Bless my watch chain! But it's a good thing we got
in ahead of him. Are you sure it was Andy himself?"
"Sure! I'd know his face anywhere. But I can't understand
it. Where has he been? What is he doing? Where is he
building his aeroplane? I thought he was out of town."
"He may have come back to-night," said Mr. Damon. "That's
the only one of your questions I can answer. We'll have to
wait about the rest, I'm sure he wasn't around the house
today, though, for I was working at weeding the flower beds,
in my disguise as a tramp, and if he was home I'd have seen
him. He must have just come back, and he went out to his
shed to get something. Well, we did the best we could."
"Indeed we did," agreed Tom, "and I'm ever so much obliged
to you, Mr. Damon."
"And we'll try again, when we get more clues. Bless my
shoelaces! but it's a relief to be able to talk as you
And forthwith the eccentric man began to call down so many
blessings on himself and on his belongings, no less than on
his friends, that Tom laughingly warned him that he had
better save some for another time.
The two reached home safely, removed their "disguises,"
and told Mr. Swift of the result of their trip. He agreed
with them that there was a mystery about Andy's aeroplane
which was yet to be solved.
But Tom was glad to find that, at any rate, the craft was
not being made in Shopton, and during the next two weeks he
devoted all his time to finishing his own machine. Mr.
Jackson was a valuable assistant, and Mr. Damon gave what
aid he could.
"Well, I think I'll be ready for a trial flight in another
week," said Tom one day, as he stepped back to get a view of
the almost completed Humming-Bird.
"Shall you want a passenger?" asked Mr. Damon.
"Yes, I wish you would take a chance with me. I could use
a bag of sand, not that I mean you are to be compared to
that," added Tom quickly, "but I'd rather have a real
person, in order to test the balancing apparatus. Yes,
we'll make a trial trip together."
In the following few days Tom went carefully over the
aeroplane, making some slight changes, strengthening it here
and there, and testing the motor thoroughly. It seemed to
At length the day of the trial came, and the Humming-Bird
was wheeled out of the shed. In spite of the fact that it
was practically finished, there yet remained much to do on
it. It was not painted or decorated, and looked rather
crude. But what Tom wanted to know was how it would fly,
what control he had over it, what speed it could make, and
how it balanced. For it was, at best, very frail, and the
least change in equilibrium might be fatal.
Before taking his place in the operator's seat Tom started
the motor, and by means of a spring balance tested the
thrust of the propellers. It was satisfactory, though he
knew that when the engine had been run for some time, and
had warmed up, it would do much better.
"All ready, I guess, Mr. Damon!" he called, and the odd
gentleman took his place. Tom got up into his own seat, in
front of several wheels and levers by which he operated the
"Start the propeller!" he requested of Mr. Jackson, and
soon the motor was spitting fire, while the big, fanlike
blades were whirring around like wings of light. The engineer
and Eradicate were holding back the Humming-Bird.
"Let her go!" cried Tom as he turned on more gasoline and
further advanced the spark of the motor. The roar increased,
the propeller looked like a solid circle of wood, and the
trim little monoplane moved slowly across the rising ground,
increasing its speed every second, until, like some graceful
bird, it suddenly rose in the air as Tom tilted the wing
tips, and soared splendidly aloft!
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Room | Tom
Swift And His Sky Racer