A Teen Novel - by Jamie F. Dodson

Sample Chapter


Martin M-130 Hawaiian Clipper over the incomplete Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco, 1936.
Water Color By IAN MARSHALL,Flying Boats, The J-Class Yachts of Aviation

A teenager is caught in an epic struggle for control of the Pacific Ocean.

7:00 p.m. Tuesday, March 22, 1935, Alameda, California

      The hours dragged by. The only respite Nick got from the drudgery was the sound of an airplane circling the airport. To Mac's continued irritation it interrupted Nick's concentration. Somewhere up there a pilot searched for a break in the weather and a safe harbor.

      Nick looked up from his work. Out the open hangar doors, the runways were slick from an earlier rain and the clouds hovered at 200 feet. With visibility down to a quarter of a mile - it was a bad night to be flying. He looked down from his perch, "Mr. Mac, what type of plane do you think is up there?"

      Mac craned his neck to look up at Nick. "There are two planes up there, Nick. But you just keep your mind on your work. I promised the Lockheed by weeks end. If not, Noone will have my ass."

      Wearily, Nick returned to his task. They had to remove the jug shaped cylinder from the badly damaged radial engine. Intense heat from the engine failure had welded the jug to the crankcase. He put his weight against a misshapen bolt. "Ouch!" Nick yelped as the big wrench slipped from his greasy hand and tumbled toward the hangar floor.

      "Watch out, you clumsy oaf!" Mac tried to leap clear but the wrench hit his foot with a sickening crunch. "Damn it, Nick, that hurt!"

      "Sorry, Mr. Mac, there's oil everywhere up here." Nick stuck his skinned knuckles into his mouth and sucked. He spat out the taste of old grease and oil, sucked again until he tasted blood. Satisfied the wound was clean, he returned to his task. "I'm amazed that Amelia didn't leave metal, bone and blood down the runway."

      Mac inspected his foot for damage in an almost causal way, like someone accustomed to pain as part of everyday life. "That's Miss Amelia Earhart to you. And I told you before; she runs the fuel mixture too lean. So lean that she blew that jug you can't seem to break free."

      "I'm trying Mr. Mac, I'm trying." Mac continued, "She'll never win that cross Pacific race if she blows an engine. In fact, she'll probably drown."

      "Pratt & Whitney engines are tough but..." Nick stopped mid sentence. Once again a circling plane intruded on his thoughts. "Which one is it Mr. Mac?"

      "What the hell are you talking about?"

      "You said there were two planes."

      "How the hell should I know?"

      They peered out the doors and searched the dark sky without success. Then Mac shuffled over to the wall and flipped a switch. The runway lights came on and stretched away until they disappeared into the fog.

      Mac returned to the stepladder and called up to Nick, "How long can you stay tonight, kid?"

      Nick glanced at the wall clock. "I was planning on staying until seven-thirty."

      Mac's expression was hopeful almost pleading. "I'll make you a deal. You stay till nine and I'll drive you home. What do you say?"

      "No way, Mr. Mac, last time I was here until midnight!"

      "Come on, Nick. This job is important to me and I know your family can use the money."

      "Did my Mom tell you about the bank letters?"

      "Yeah, she was near tears." Mac wiped his hands on a rag and avoided eye contact. "She told me she hadn't been able to pay the mortgage since your dad left. The bank's foreclosing next month."

      Guilt racked Nick, but he remained resolute. "I know, but I've got to keep my grades up or I'll never get into college. Sorry, Mr. Mac I've got a calculus test tomorrow and I have to study."

      Mac turned and limped away livid, swearing under his breath. Nick smiled and couldn't resist a playful tease, "What was that, Mr. Mac? I didn't hear you."

      Mac shook his head and limped on toward the office. Suppressing a chuckle, Nick said, "I wonder what mother would say if she knew our boarder swore like a sailor."

      Mac stopped dead. "Nick, you wouldn't!"

      "I might."

      "And what, you think you'll get another flying lesson?"

     "Mr. Mac, you owe me those lessons! I traded work hours for them. You couldn't cheat anyone - even me. It's not in your nature."

      "I might." A smile crossed his face.

      They looked at each other and laughed. Each knew the other too well. Nick smiled, "One more solo and I'll have my license! When can I fly again?"

      "I'd say as soon as this Lockheed is flyable."


      The roar of a low flying plane filled the hangar. Mac and Nick rushed out into the damp air and looked up in horror. The plane barely missed the roof. It banked hard right, lined up with the runway and gently touched down.

      "Christ, I though he was going to hit the building!" Mac shook his fist at the retreating airplane. "You idiot!" Then he let out a string of obscenities, some of which Nick hadn't yet heard. Mac's anger abated somewhat and he turned to Nick, "So Mr. Pilot want-to-be, what type of plane nearly sliced off the top my hangar?"

      "It's a Lockheed Sirius, Mr. Mac. Tail number...NR...two...looks like eleven."

      "Right you are kid and somehow I don't think you're getting out of here by seven-thirty either."

      "Why's that?" Nick was more than a little curious. There were maybe 12 Sirius aircraft in the world. The red and black tail dragger stopped 200 yards down the runway, turned around and taxied towards them. The landing lights were blinding as Nick suddenly remembered the one man in the world who had a tail number ending in 211. Eyes wide he looked over at Mac, who wore a huge grin.

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Skyway to Asia - The Epic Struggle for the Pacific Airways

Created on ... February 09, 2007
Updated on ... February 19, 2007