Willard Middle School - Target Yearbook (Berkeley, CA)

 - Class of 1933

Page 29 of 68


Willard Middle School - Target Yearbook (Berkeley, CA) online yearbook collection, 1933 Edition, Page 29 of 68
Page 29 of 68

Willard Middle School - Target Yearbook (Berkeley, CA) online yearbook collection, 1933 Edition, Page 28
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Page 29 text:

inch, you can imagine its tremendous power. Liquid air fuses metal when in contact with flame, and that explains the condition of the piston. " " Well, who was the murderer? " said I. " That remains to be seen, but first we must know the intended vic- tim. Here is what I have learned about the passengers: the pilot, David Burwick, killed, born 1909 in Boston, has been a pilot about a year, just transferred to this route, well liked by all. It isn ' t likely that he ' s the one. Co-pilot, James Martin ,killed, born 1898 in Omaha, flew in the war, been on this route about a year and a half, a bit grouchy. " " Maybe he was the murderer. He was probably jealous of the young pilot, " said I. " Let ' s get them all, " answered Starling. " Carl White, killed, born 1900 in New York, had been fairly successful in business. He was going to see about the sale of some wheat. Lawrence Towers, born 1897 in Denver. He flew in the war and brought down the plane safely when his pilot was shot down by Germans. He is a newspaper reporter now and was there to get a story of the flight. He got a story. Have you read his write-ups of the accident? " " Yes, " I answered. " He poses as the hero. " " To continue: John Baker, born 1901 near St. Paul. He had worked his way up in the company that owned the plane and was along to report on the plane ' s performance. He says he heard a strange noise in the gas tank, which, he thinks, was a leak. There you are: three dead, a company official with a broken arm, and a newspaper reporter only bruised and scratched. What do you make of it? " " Nothing at all. In fact I don ' t believe it was a murder, " I ventured to say. " I hardly expected a lawyer to believe me, " said Starling, chuckling. " The more I think about it the more— —Let me see those names again, Roberts? Peculiar that— -Why, I have it all now! I have to follow up this clue, Roberts. Meet me at the Downtown Hotel at 8 o ' clock to- night. " With these words, Starling left the room. I must admit that I was completely puzzled over the case, but I decided to be patient. Eight o ' clock found Starling leading me out of the hotel into a wait- ing taxi. When the taxi rolled to a stop, we were in front of a hospital. " But Starling, " I protested, " here you have dragged me to this hospital without a word of explanation. " " You will pardon me if I seem neglectful, " he replied as we entered the hospital, " but I have been planning my next move. We have come here to see Towers, the newspaper reporter. " " He seems to be making the best of his misfortune. " Inside an open door we saw a photographer taking pictures of a man in bed. We caught expressions like these: " Get a worried look on your face; don ' t forget you have had a terrible experience; what luck! best story I ever got; that ' s better — hold it; ' bye! " When the photographer was through, we entered, and Starling said, " Good evening, Mr. Towers. I am from the airplane company, and I want your version of what happened. "

Page 28 text:

Air Trouble Qne afternoon while I was in Kansas City, I heard an airplane crash. As I was interested in airplanes, I decided to see the plane. On arriving at the scene of the crash, I found that the front part of the plane was almost demolished and that the pilot, co-pilot, and one passenger had been killed. The two saved had been taken to a hospital before I arrived. The police were trying to keep back the crowd, but one man slipped past them. When ordered back, he showed the policeman a card and began to examine the plane. I was watching him when he happened to notice me. It was Starling, my college chum. " Well, hello, Roberts. I had no idea that you were here, " he said. " Hello, yourself, Starling, " I replied. " What are you doing here? " " I ' m investigating this crash for the company that owns the plane. It seems that this is a new model of plane, and they want to know why it crashed. " " But when did you turn detective? " " Soon after college. Would you like to help me examine the plane? " " With great pleasure! " I replied. He walked to the spot where the motor was. It was almost destroyed, but Starling noticed many things that escaped me. He leaned over and picked up something. He showed me two pieces of metal. One was a flattened piston, but the other I didn ' t recognize. " Now here is something interesting, " said he. " When two pistons from the same engine look so different, something unusual has happened. " " That a piston? " I cried, as it was a shapeless piece of metal with one piece jutting out. " Yes, you will notice the connecting rod of this piston closely resem- bles the piece sticking out of the other. " " What made them different? " I asked. " One has been melted by great heat. Probably an explosion, " Starling replied. " What do you think caused it? " I asked, but Starling was deep in thought. Finally he said, " I have to get back to town now. I ' ll call at your home about three o ' clock to-morrow. Good-bye. " The next day when I saw Starling, I asked how the investigation was progressing. He replied that he had been making inquiries and experi- ments and that he believed that it had been more than a mere airplane accident. " What then do you think it was? " I inquired. " Murder! " was his reply. " That explosion was not a natural one. It had unusual force. " " What caused the explosion then? " " Liquid air, " was the prompt reply. " Liquid air! How could it? " " It was fed into the engine with gasoline. The heat of the engine ex- panded the liquid air, and, as it compressed to 2,200 pounds per square

Page 30 text:

" We were flying along when we hit an air pocket. The next instant there was an explosion, probably due to an overheated gas tank. The plane pancaked down, and Baker and I were safe. I was lucky not to be killed as I was near the front. " " Could I quote you as saying you saw nothing to suggest a planned accident? " " I believe so, but why do you ask? " " The authorities have thought that perhaps the co-pilot ' s jealousy of the pilot caused trouble, " said Starling. Towers ' face brightened and he asked, " Is that all, gentlemen? " " No, there ' s another thing I want to ask. Did you notice anything that could have shaken the co-pilot just before the flight? " " Why, no! In fact I didn ' t see him. " " Here, take a drink of water! " cried Starling, as Towers looked very ill. " Roberts and I examined the engine. We observed that one piston looked like metal fused by liquid air, but I needn ' t tell you this, since you used liquid air for your own murderous ends! " Towers started out of bed, but Starling quickly handcuffed him. He looked so violently ill I asked, " Shall I call a nurse? " " No, Roberts, call a policeman. " On the way home, my curiosity got the better of me. " How in the world did you unravel that problem, Starling? " I asked. " I first decided that it was a murder when I saw the explosion had been from inside the engine. Then I saw that only liquid air could have made the explosion. As I told you before, the only way for the liquid air to get into the engine was with the gasoline. I checked the feed lines and found parts of a bottle used for handling liquid air in the gas tank in the wing. This checked with Mr. Baker ' s story. I was searching for the intended victim when I noticed that both Mr. Martin, the co-pilot, and Towers had flown in the war. I inquired and found that Towers and Martin had been in the same unit in France. On further inquiry, I learned that Towers and an officer were flying in a bomber protected by Martin in a pursuit plane. Then the officer was killed by the Germans. I took a guess that Towers had killed the officer, Martin being the only witness. Martin ' s agitation on seeing Towers at the airport proved that to me. From all, I deducted that Towers knew Martin was flying on this route. His conscience probably had been torturing him so he hit upon this scheme to kill Martin and himself at the same time. He obtained some liquid air, put this into a bottle, and put the bottle into the gas tank. When the plane hit the air pocket, the bottle broke against the side of the tank. The liquid air flowed into the motor, exploding in the first cylinder it reached. Luckily all the passengers were not killed, and the newspaper man decided to start life with a clean slate now that the one man who could witness against him was dead. He probably would have done so, if two meddling persons had not started an investigation. Charles Bell.

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