Motor Car in Contest of Speed with Airplane

At the Canadian National Exhibition in 1918, the daring aviatrix Ruth Bancroft Law, flying a Curtiss Pusher, took on a Duesenberg driven by racecar driving champion Gaston Chevrolet.

Here's how it went down:

Of note, 100 years ago today, Law—alternately known as Mrs. Charles Oliver—flew her Curtiss Pusher non-stop from Chicago, Illinois to Hornell, New York, a distance of 590 miles, shattering the previous long distance flight record of 452 miles.

She was greeted by marching bands, garrisons on parade and a crowd of fifty newspaper reporters, one of whom asked, "You have made the longest flight a woman ever made, haven't you?" She replied, "I have made the longest flight an American ever made." President Wilson would call it, "the greatest flight ever made in America," adding that Law was "a great little flier."

Law went on to break more records, including, in 1919, altitude (14,700 feet), and earned as much as $9,000 a week for exhibition flights, In 1920, at age 32, she retired from aviation. Why? "Because I'm a normal woman and want a home, a baby, and everything else that goes with married life," she said. "Why, I've been married for almost 10 years to Charlie Oliver, the man who has managed my exhibitions, and scarcely anyone knew who he was. And the poor boy was so worried about me all that time that every time I went up he lost a pound. Of course, I'm just crazy about flying, but one's husband is more important."

RELATED LINKSAn Attempt to Fly Under the Eiffel TowerOnce a Spy

My Own True Pirate Yarn

William Thompson

William Thompson

As a kid in Connecticut, I had a pirating plan. It started with getting in good with the pirate captain William Thompson—an ancestor of mine, I thought—and finding out where he hid the Treasure of Lima. Capt. Thompson spelled Thomson the wrong way (with a P) but pirates weren’t known for their literacy. Another issue was he died in 1825. But if you’re eight, you can stare out to sea and believe there’s a pretty good chance your pirate ancestor’s masts might appear on the horizon, and that he might row ashore and say to you, “Kid, I need you to go on an adventure to get gold.”

Twenty years later, that was basically the premise of my first novel, Pirates of Pensacola: A land-lubbing accountant’s life is anything but exciting until his estranged pirate father shows up after twenty-some years in jail and says, “Let’s hit the sea, lad, there’s treasure to be got.” And the adventure is under weigh.

Today I’m thinking: Why not actually find Capt. Thompson's treasure?

Here are our clues: In 1820, Jose de San Martin was leading his rebel forces toward Lima. The Spanish colonists occupying Lima were worried he’d seize the gold and jewels they’d earlier seized from the natives, including solid gold roof panels worth $12 million (in 1820!) and a life size jewel-studded golden Virgin Mary. So the Spaniards hired then-trustworthy British sea captain, William Thompson, to stow the treasure on his brig Mary Dear, sail around for a few months until San Martin had moved on, then return the haul to Lima. The Spaniards sent a few of their men along to make sure Capt. Thompson stayed trustworthy. Thompson and his crew killed them all and turned pirate.

Almost immediately, dozens of Spanish men-o’-war were scouring the Seven Seas for the Mary Dear. The well-known roof panels and the life-size jewel-studded virgin would’ve been tough to fence under the best of circumstances; Thompson and his first mate secured the loot in a cave on an uninhabited island three hundred miles west of Costa Rica. They planned to return for it when things cooled off. Problem was, they died of Yellow Fever. The rest of the crew was caught by a man o’ war and sent to hang out with Davy Jones.

The island is now called Cocos, and it’s still uninhabited. Thompson did draw up a map. Copies of it are around because, over the years, numerous people have tried to find the treasure, including Franklin Roosevelt on two separate expeditions. The cave was clearly marked on the map, but no one ever located it because of severe shoreline erosion. Likely the cave is now covered by ocean floor.

The thing is, none of the previous expeditions had the advantage of the sonar technology commonly found on modern dive ships. If you’ve got that sort of rig, talk to me. Alternatively we can acquire one somehow.

Related links: Pirates of Pensacola

"Space Debris" or NASA Cover-Up?

NASA classifies it as space debris. It was first spotted by Astronaut Gordon Cooper during his twenty-two-orbit Mercury-Atlas 9 flight in 1963. A spacecraft or satellite or some sort, he believed, much larger than any other man-made satellite of the time.

It was seen, on radar, by multiple witnesses at a NASA tracking station near Perth, Australia. The only official explanation given was that Cooper had breathed in too much CO2, giving him hallucinations. Which was all the confirmation UFO-cover-up-conspiracists needed. It became known as TBK—The Black Knight.

Then in 1987 the Endeavour Mission, STS-088, turned in these photos:

So what TBKF is it?

 

The Best Landing Ever?

As the old adage goes, any landing you can walk away from is a good one. But one landing has to the best. Here's a candidate: On December 7, 1941, an Army B-17 flying over the Pacific was hit by strafing from Japanese Zeroes.

The flare box caught fire, filling the fuselage with smoke. The captain, Raymond T. Swenson of California, tried to hide in clouds. But the smoke proved overwhelming.

Swenson tried to fly to Oahu, Hawaii, making it as far as Hickam Field. Where this happened:

Weakened by the fire, the bomber broke apart while landing. Landing without further injury to captain and crew, however!

RELATED LINK: Unbelievable Glider Landing

Snowden's: Believe it or Not

According to an anonymous source posting to Facebook and Pinterest UFO pages, you are looking at a classified photo of a secret space plane, leaked by Edward Snowden.

Adds the source, "These ships were created from technology taken from Alien spacecraft that have been confiscated since the Truman Administration and reverse engineered at Area 51, Los Alamos, and The Dulce's N.M. Deep Underground Military Base. They are launched into space from the top secret Base on Diego Garcia Island in the Philippines [sic]. Expect Full Disclosure in the coming weeks."

I'm a bit skeptical because the photo is blurry, but then again most alien/UFO photos are. Also our source misreported the location of Diego Garcia, the atoll in the Indian Ocean, but that may have been a function of haste, perhaps with CIA assassins on his heels. The other thing is, it sort of looks like a computer render, but if the aliens have intergalactic travel capability, they could probably create that effect. What do you think?

Related Link: FOR YOUR EYES ONLY: AURORA

FOR YOUR EYES ONLY: AURORA

The Mach-8 strategic reconnaissance aircraft code-named Aurora is aviation's equivalent of a unicorn. There's no real documented evidence of its existence, but there are lots of other animals with a single horn sticking out of their heads, including narwhals, so how implausible is it that there's a horse with a horn running around somewhere?

Then there's this: The plane Aurora is rumored to have succeeded, the Mach-3 Blackbird, remained secret for years after its first flight, and it's retired now. Why wouldn't the Pentagon have had a successor for it? Government officials have been steadfast in their denial of Aurora's existence, but what reason do they have to give up our national security secrets? And since when do you get your truth from politicians?

Below you'll find a brief slideshow of Aurora photos that are legitimate—according to the Internet—and a documentary. What do you think? Tell me in the form below. I don't need to know the truth, but, well, I'm curious. A truly legit photo gets you a free signed copy of my book Once a Spy (which features an actual secret Blackbird interceptor variant that readers criticize me for imagining, but I'm telling you, there was this legit-looking video on YouTube that was taken down, probably by the CIA…).

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