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| Home | Reading Room Tom Swift And His Sky Racer

Tom Swift And His Sky Racer
or The Quickest Flight on Record
by Victor Appleton

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Chapter Nine

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

interrupted him.

"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

the shed.

"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

hoarse whisper.

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

work perfectly.

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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