Authors: T. E. Cruise
The grand old patriarch faces his twilight years—and his greatest personal triumphs.
His loyalty made him a faithful servant of the Gold family. His love made him a member of it.
After years of painful widowhood, she finds new love and brings fresh hope to the dynasty of Gold.
To him, hell was being grounded, tied to a desk. He’d hit the skies any way he could—even if it meant flying dangerous missions
in a foreign land.
For the heroic Vietnam ace, the most critical war he has yet to face is the one with his own family.
Wings of Gold: The Aces
Wings of Gold II: The Flyboys
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First eBook Edition: October 2009
DULLES ISSUES WARNING ON INDOCHINA—
Secretary of State Warns That the Rest of Southeast Asia
May Fall Like Dominoes Under Soviet Domination—
New York Gazette
FRENCH/COMMUNIST SHOWDOWN IN VIETNAM—
French Forces Prepared for Red Assault at Dien Bien Phu—
U.S. Increases Financial Support to French Military Operation—
GC-909 MAKES MAIDEN FLIGHT—
GAT Liner Introduces Jet Transport in America—
Aviation Trade Magazine
EASTERN BLOC SIGNS WARSAW PACK—
Iron Curtain Unites Against NATO—
Washington Star Reporter
SOVIET LEADER DENOUNCES STALIN—
Khrushchev Calls for Decentralization of Power—
Los Angeles Gazette
AIRPORTS RUSH TO MODERNIZE—
Public’s Love Affair with the Air Catches Facilities Unaware—
LaGuardia Airport to Spend $30 Mil. to Accommodate Jets—
New York Business Journal
RUSSIANS LAUNCH SATELLITE—
Congress Calls for Inquiry as Reds Make Great Leap in Space
NASA INTRODUCES PROJECT MERCURY TEAM—
Nation Salutes First Seven Astronauts to Explore Space—
Miami Daily Telegraph
KENNEDY WINS MARYLAND PRIMARY—
Massachusetts Senator Neutralizes Religious Controversy—
November Race Shapes Up: Kennedy vs. Nixon—
RUSSIANS SHOOT DOWN U.S. SPY PLANE—
SOVIETS DISPLAY WRECKAGE—
Captured Pilot to Be Charged with Espionage—
San Francisco Post
Gold Aviation and Transport
21 July 1954
Herman Gold stood with his hands on his hips in the doorway of the acre-sized assembly hangar. The hangar was windowless but
cool due to air-conditioning. It was lit to operating room intensity by hundreds of overhead light fixtures. The partially
completed, Gold Commercial 909 jetliner prototype gleaming beneath those lights was 153 feet long and 42 feet high, and had
a wing span of 145 feet. The jetliner was surrounded by plywood scaffolding from which the technician teams in their turquoise
and scarlet company overalls swarmed like gaudy ants busy at some gargantuan, metallic beetle.
The streamlined GC-909 jetliner was Gold Aviation and Transport’s latest and most expensive endeavor, a graceful and lithe
silver bird meant to seduce the airlines from their outmoded and aging fleets of piston-engined airplanes. Today, however,
Gold was wondering if the 909 jetliner was going to turn out to be his company’s most expensive flop.
Gold was fifty-five years old, with light blue eyes, freckles, and a wreath of curly, crimson hair around his ears that had
long ago thinned on top to strawberry-colored fuzz. He was tall and thin, except for his damned potbelly. He’d been waging
war against his paunch for the last twenty years. So far in his eventful life it had been one of the few battles he’d ever
Gold had been born Hermann Goldstein, in Germany. An orphan, he had grown up in the streets of Berlin but had managed to pull
himself out of the gutter by learning a mechanic’s trade. During World War I he had served as an N.C.O. in the Kaiser’s Imperial
Air Service. He’d been a pilot, one of the aces who’d flown with Von Richthofen. His twenty confirmed kills had been four
more than was necessary in those days to earn Germany’s highest military decoration, the Blue Max, but he’d never received
his medal, or any of the honors due him, because he was a Jew.
Soon after the war he’d made the decision to come to America, where he shortened his name to Herman Gold. He briefly worked
as a truck mechanic on New York’s Lower East Side, until a newspaper advertisement led him to a job as a pilot in a barnstorming
troupe that was about to tour the country. He eventually ended up in Southern California.
This was during Prohibition, when an experienced pilot who could fly at night could make himself a great deal of money bringing
in hooch from Mexico. In less than a week Gold had earned five thousand dollars, and although he had never been proud that
he’d broken the law of his adopted country, it had been that money which had allowed him to start Gold Express, an air transport
operation between Los Angeles and San Francisco.
Gold Express had made its first flight in 1921, and from the start had been a successful enterprise. In 1923 Gold had been
able to rent a warehouse on the Santa Monica waterfront. There he established Gold Aviation, an aircraft design firm. In 1925
GAT suffered a string of setbacks, but things improved by 1927. It had been in ‘27, the same year that Lindbergh made his
historic flight across the Atlantic, when Gold Aviation sold its first airplane design, the G-1 Yellow-jacket, to the United
States Postal Service. The Post Office ended up buying hundreds of the airplanes. It had been that cash infusion that had
allowed Gold Aviation and Transport to build on 109 acres in the Burbank desert.
In the twenty-five years since, GAT prospered. During the ‘40s, flush with cash thanks to its wartime military contracts,
the company bought out its surrounding neighbors, including the bordering movie studio, to become a sprawling complex; a vast,
manufacturing metropolis that employed thousands on round-the-clock shifts to turn out fighters, bombers, and transport crafts
for the military and international commercial aviation markets.
And after all of those years, and airplanes built, and hundreds of millions of dollars spent and earned, you’d think it’d
get a little easier
, Gold brooded as he watched the men in their overalls fussing over his company’s latest and greatest silver bird. But it
wasn’t getting any easier, Gold knew. Aviation research and development costs had escalated enormously. Today, despite GAT’s
extensive resources, the company’s future was pinned to the success of this awesome, shiny 909 jetliner, just as that future
had been wagered back in 1927, when an exceedingly young and nervous Herman Gold presented his single engine, open cockpit
G-1 Yellowjacket to those skeptical buyers from the Postal Service …
Gold walked through the hangar, and then turned the corner around a line of parts bins to look for his chief engineer Don
Harrison. He found Don conferring with several team foremen in the work space that Don had walled off with banks of filing
cabinets. Don Harrison was thirty-three. He was tall and broad-shouldered but a little soft around the edge, like a football
player who’d been riding the bench too long. He had wide-spaced hazel eyes and thinning blond hair that he wore slicked back
from his high, domed forehead. As Gold watched, Don went to one of the filing cabinets, pulled out a scrolled blueprint, and
then unrolled the drawing on a drafting table. He pushed his tan, round-framed eyeglasses up from the tip of his nose, and
began to move his index finger rapidly across the drawing in order to make some point to the foremen, who nodded.
“Problem?” Gold asked, coming up behind Don as the foremen went back to work.
Don turned around, a weary smile on his face. “Nah, just putting out fires. You know what I mean?”
“You solve one problem and up pop two more.” Gold nodded, thinking that Don looked beat. There were deep shadows beneath his
red-rimmed eyes. The kid hadn’t shaved in a couple of days; his complexion beneath his sparse blond whiskers was pale and
his face was drawn.
“I think you could use some sleep,” Gold said, frowning as he regarded Don’s baggy slacks and wrinkled shirt and tie. “How
long have you been here?”
“Forty-eight hours,” Don said, and before Gold could protest, added, “I’ve been napping in my office.” He turned back to his
drafting table. “Don’t worry. I intend to take a nice long rest once this baby gets airborne.”
Gold flinched. The kid had sounded exactly like Teddy Quinn. For over thirty years Teddy had been Gold’s chief engineer and
his closest friend, until Teddy died of heart failure, back in ‘51.
“You know, Don, that crap about taking it easy in a little while was just what Teddy used to say,” Gold warned.
it.” Don grinned. He winked at Gold. “It just might even be a honeymoon …”
“You mean you and that Forrester woman you’ve been seeing might tie the knot?” Gold put his arm around Don’s shoulder, hugging
him affectionately. “That’s great news, my boy … I’m very happy for you—”
“Hold on, Herman.” Don laughed. “I haven’t asked her yet…”
“But you’re planning to, right?”
“Good! She’ll accept. I’m sure of it. You’ve been going with her, how long?”