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Tom tries, with mixed success, to get someone to go along with him and try out an airplane that he had recently been working on. After getting off to a good start and proving that his concept worked, the plane’s engine died and Tom had to volplane back to earth. Upon checking for a problem, Tom found that his platinum-tipped spark plugs. While he was wondering where he could get some platinum, a Russian, who lived nearby, came and offered him the metal he needed. When asking the man where he had obtained it, the Russian told him that it came from a lost platinum mine in Russia that had been discovered when he and his brother (who was exiled in a Russian mine) were lost in the mountains. Later, the Russian authorities recaptured them and discovered the platinum ore samples they carried, but they were unable to find the lost mine. Tom immediately decided to go to Russia with this man, rescue the man’s captive brother, and try to locate the platinum mine. To help their search for the mine Tom built a glider. Did Tom make it to the mine? Did he rescue the man’s brother? All these and more are answered in the book Tom Swift and his Air Glider. (source: tomswift info)
41,592 words, with a reading time of ~ 2.5 hours (~ 166 pages), and first published in 1912. This DRM-Free edition published by epubBooks, 2014.
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“Well, Ned, are you ready?”
“Oh, I suppose so, Tom. As ready as I ever shall be.”
“Why, Ned Newton, you’re not getting afraid; are you? And after you’ve been on so many trips with me?”
“No, it isn’t exactly that, Tom. I’d go in a minute if you didn’t have this new fangled thing on your airship. But how do you know how it’s going to work–or whether it will work at all? We may come a cropper.”
“Bless my insurance policy!” exclaimed a man who was standing near the two lads who were conversing. “You’d better keep near the ground, Tom.”
“Oh, that’s all right, Mr. Damon,” answered Tom Swift. “There isn’t any more danger than there ever was, but I guess Ned is nervous since our trip to the underground city of gold.”
“I am not!” indignantly exclaimed the other lad, with a look at the young inventor. “But you know yourself, Tom, that putting this new propeller on your airship, changing the wing tips, and re-gearing the motor has made an altogether different sort of a craft of it. You, yourself, said it wasn’t as reliable as before, even though it does go faster.”
“Now look here, Ned!” burst out Tom. “That was last week that I said it wasn’t reliable. It is now, for I’ve tried it out several times, and yet, when I ask you to take a trip with me, to act as ballast–”
“Is that all you want me for, Tom, to act as ballast? Then you’d better take a bag of sand–or Mr. Damon here!”
“Me? I guess not! Bless my diamond ring! My wife hasn’t forgiven me for going off on that last trip with you, Tom, and I’m not going to take any more right away. But I don’t blame Ned–”
“Say, look here!” cried Tom, a little out of patience, “you know me better than that, Ned. Of course you’re more than ballast–I want you to help me manage the craft since I made the changes on her. Now if you don’t want to come, why say so, and I’ll get Eradicate. I don’t believe he’ll be afraid, even if he–”
“Hold on dar now, Massa Tom!” exclaimed an aged colored man, who was an all around helper at the Swift homestead, “was yo’ referencin’ t’ me when yo’ spoke?”
“Yes, Rad, I was saying that if Ned wouldn’t go up in the airship with me you would.”
“Well, now, Masa Tom, I shorely would laik t’ ‘blige yo’, I shore would. But de fack ob de mattah am dat I has a mos’ particular job ob white washin’ t’ do dish mornin’, an’ I ‘spects I’d better be gittin’ at it. It’s a mos’ particular job, an’, only fo’ dat, I’d be mos’ pleased t’ go up in de airship. But as it am, I mus’ ax yo’ t’ ‘scuse me, I really mus’,” and the colored man shuffled off at a faster gait than he was in the habit of using.
“Well, of all things!” gasped Tom. “I believe you’re all afraid of the old airship, just because I made some changes in her. I’ll go up alone, that’s what I will.”
“No, I’ll go with you,” interposed Ned Newton who was Tom’s most particular chum. “I only wanted to be sure it was all right, that was all.”
“Well, if you’ve fully made up your mind,” went on the young inventor, a little mollified, “lend me a hand to get her in shape for a run. I expect to make faster time than I ever did before, and I’m going to head out Waterford way. You’d better come along, Mr. Damon, and I’ll drop you off at your house.”
“Bless my feather bed!” gasped the man. “Drop me off! I like that, Tom Swift!”
“Oh, I didn’t mean it exactly that way,” laughed Tom. “But will you come.”
“No, thanks, I’m going home by trolley,” and then as the odd man went in the house to speak to Tom’s father, the two lads busied themselves about the airship.
This was a large aeroplane, one of the largest Tom Swift had ever constructed, and he was a lad who had invented many kinds of machinery besides crafts for navigating the upper regions. It was not as large as his combined aeroplane and dirigible balloon of which I have told you in other books, but it was of sufficient size to carry three persons besides other weight.
Tom had built it some years before, and it had seemed good enough then. Later he constructed some of different models, besides the big combination affair, and he had gone on several trips in that.
He and his chum Ned, together with Eradicate Sampson, the colored man, and Mr. Damon, had been to a wonderful underground city of gold in Mexico, and it was soon after their return from this perilous trip that Tom had begun the work of changing his old aeroplane into a speedier craft.
This had occupied him most of the Winter, and now that Spring had come he had a chance to try what a re-built motor, changed propellers, and different wing tips would do for the machine.
The time had come for the test and, as we have seen, Tom had some difficulty in persuading anyone to go along with him? But Ned finally got over his feeling of nervousness.