National Geographic : 1925 Mar
274 THE NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE Photograph by Lieutenant J. Parker Van Zan cit PASSENGERS ARRIVING FROM LONDON AT THE PARIS TERMINAL AERODRO:\lE, LE BOURGET Most of these passengers are American tourists. This plane has seats for 12 passengers, with a luggage compartment in the rear, from which the mechanics may be seen unloading baggage and air express. The engines are 3so-horsepower Rolls-Royce motors, such as were used in long-distance bombing planes during the war. On the upper wing may be seen the gasoline tanks. from which the fuel reaches the engines by gravity. uniform made some hasty notes relating to my passport and declared impecuni- osity. and I scrambled into the rear open cockpit as the pilot began to taxi slowly away from the buildings. BEGINNING THE MOST MEMORABLE AIR RIDE IN EUROPE An answering roar from the engine as the throttle was advanced, wheels plow- ing through the deep dewladen grass, tail poised for flight-and I was off on what was destined to prove my most memorable air ride in Europe. . A wide turn over Toulouse, the street lights glowing dully through the ground mist. In the half-light of early morning the earth appeared dark and cold, and the crisp, clean rush of air past my un- covered cockpit made me thankful for the warm flying suit borrowed from a friendly mechanic at the field. The gentle valley of the Garonne lay sleeping under a fleecy sheet of light fog, the apparent complete suspension of life eyoking in some peculiar way a sense of special virtue in our own animation. Like a child's ribbon, the canal lay curled at the base of the furrowed hills, a solemn double row of poplars guarding its banks. The black thread of the rail- road now ran close beside it, now struck out boldly across the rich farm land to- ward where the valley narrowed before the encroaching Pyrenees. A grayish mist across the narrow cor- ridor warned us to descend to a lower altitude. The whistle of the flying wires rose to a shrill pitch, as we gathered mo- mentum in the downward glide. Wisps of damp cloud flung by, and then a sud- den opaqueness. as we plunged with noiseless impact into the threatening cloud front ahead.