A young pilot attempts to set a world record.
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In 1912 Tony Jannus, a handsome 22 year-old pilot, attempts to set a record for the longest flight over water. He becomes the chief pilot for the first scheduled airline. He was a test pilot for an airplane manufacturer and instructor for Russian pilots before the United States entered World War I. He is drawn into combat with the German Navy during the war. Through out his adventurous life he meets and dates many attractive young women. War tests his courage and changes his outlook on life. He meets the woman he wants to marry and they set a date.
Tony winced from a sharp pain in his gut. Dressed in long johns and sitting on the edge of his hotel bed, he swallowed a mouthful of beer. It barely eased the misery in his belly. "Where the hell is Jay Dee?" he muttered. "It's getting dark."
A gust of wind rattled a loose windowpane; the clattering noise beckoned him to the window. He wiped away the fog with the sleeve of his long johns and stared at the deserted street three floors below. Deep ruts crisscrossed the dirt street. Torrential rain and sleet driven by the autumn gale had transformed the city into a quagmire. For two days, the storm had raged, driving low hanging black clouds to the northeast. "Damn, what's taking him so long?"
He watched a team of draft horses pulling a grain wagon through the watery mire. The teamster, shrouded under oilskins and wearing a black, broad-brimmed hat, flicked his whip on the horses' rumps. Snorting mushroom shaped breaths, the horses trudged toward the grain elevators on the banks of the Missouri River, which was near a shed where Tony and Jay Dee had stored the aeroplane. Jay Dee, a mechanic, had gone to the storage shed to check on the aeroplane. He worried that the gale might buckle the dilapidated building.
Like a hot ember, another pain singed Tony's gut. He doubled over, then drained the last swallow of beer and wiped his lips with the back of his hand.
Tony Jannus, chief aviator for the Benoist Aircraft Company in St. Louis, wished he were in St. Louis, instead of cooped up in a one-horse town like Omaha. As he reached for another beer, two whacks on the door startled him. "Who is it?"
A whiskey voice grated through the door. "Trefts."
Trefts was the last person he wanted to see. “Okay.” Tony grumbled. He unlocked the door and opened it.