Captain Ross Lorimer learns the key to surviving war in the skies, during World War One.
ON EAGLES' WINGS is a story about those tissue-paper and match-stick planes, and of the brave and often foolhardy boys of both sides, who flew them.
Sit in the cockpit with Ross as he dices with death on a daily basis, and while off duty, tries so hard to forget what he has experienced above the grim battlefields.
See him grow into a man during that bloody war in the bitterly cold skies over France.
Can he find his lost love amongst the ghastly horrors of the Western Front?
Ross opened the throttle part way and the wheels began to turn. A touch of rudder to keep her on line. That's better, She's running straight now. Time for a bit more. Half throttle. The wind is starting to batter my face now. Must be halfway up the strip by now. Should I go to full?
Bill leaned right over him from the back seat and circled his hand in front of his younger brother's face, so Ross opened the throttle to full.
Keep the stick forward. Keep her on the ground. But the hedges are coming up fast. What's the revs? 1200. Good.
Speed? Forty two, forty three, forty four. Sheeet, the hedges!
A quick glance at the pitot tube again...
Forty-five! Now, ease back on the stick... but the hedges! So close!
He felt the wheels lift and their vibration stopped. He pulled the stick back hard to clear the hedge, only to have Bill push it forwards again as the straining craft almost stalled. Then they were over the hedge and away.
“Shit! Shit! Shit! I nearly stuffed it. Keep her at fifty. Revs 1200. That seems all right. Let her gain height slowly. What are we? Three hundred feet. Three-twenty. Three-thirty. Good. Keep climbing, baby. Wheeeee.
He looked over the side and saw the patchwork quilt of fields below, slowly getting smaller. A river over to his left beckoned so he pushed the rudder pedal and eased the Farman into a turn. Bill clapped his hands over Ross's helmet to signify approval.
Holy Hell, this is great. Let's see if I can dive and recover like Bill did. Now, stick down a bit with a touch of left rudder.
He saw the horizon rise up and over Bill's shoulder caught a glimpse of the Church.
Great, I kept that one under control. Now for a climb. Full throttle? Fine. Stick back gently, a bit of right rudder to counteract the breeze... Horizon's gone, clouds ahead. Height three hundred, stick back to centre, three-forty, three-sixty, still climbing nicely, four hundred feet. Bills turning... what's that? He's yelling “Land her now”. Geez, how do I land her again? First find the strip. I think it's behind me. So turn...
Good, there it is. Now, line up with the strip. Um, throttle down to half? Losing speed and height. Keep the nose up a bit. What's the landing speed again? Fifty-five wasn't it? What's Bill saying? Switch off? Oh, yes.
With the engine off, the wind vibrating the fragile craft belted their eardrums and Ross could just make out what Bill was saying as he leaned forward.
“Keep her at about fifty with the stick. Your height is fine. Be ready to blip the engine again if you get too low. Looks fine so far. Keep the rudder straight. A bit of engine. That's fine. Pull the stick back ever so slightly. You're over the hedges. Back a tad more with the stick . That's it...
Bang, shudder. Bang, shudder. Bang, shudder. He felt the whole craft vibrating violently as the wheels ran along the tufts of grass.
Pull back on the stick, get the tail down. Speed dropping off. Thirty, Twenty-five, Twenty. She's pulling to the left. A bit of rudder. That's better. Rolling to a stop now. Ahhh!
He sat there, hands locked onto the stick, every muscle in his body shaking. Sweat trickled down the sides of his goggles and he felt blood where he had bitten his lip in concentration.
But he was down, safe.
He had flown.
He was a pilot!