Mystery of the Cowboy Pilot

By Jan Verhoeff
Investigation is serious business for me. I expect eventually to become an investigator for the FBI. Although my family thinks this is just a phase I’m passing through, I know there’s a future for me to do more than just write about the mysteries I solve.

Take today, for instance. My brother, that’s Neill, he’s almost sixteen months younger than me and seriously not into growing a career of investigations. He believes our investigations now will simply be fodder for his books, those ones he wants to write eventually. My sister, Emily, thinks we’re all a little squirrelly for working up a sweat trying to solve mysteries. We should be letting the police do it, since it’s their job and they get paid to do it. But, she hangs out with us and mostly is there to rescue us when we get in over our heads. Morgan can identify with what I do, because she’s studying to be a Criminal Investigator when she gets out of college. Personally, I think she’ll get married and make pretty babies, because she’s a girl, but I don’t dare tell her that.

Mom is a writer for the local paper. She writes news stories and blogs about the events we get into on the town blog. She’s probably solved more crime in print than the police department has in the courts – and she’s good at getting to the meat of things. People stand up and listen when she speaks, especially when she’s angry. They kind of react the same way to Morgan. I wonder if they’ll listen to me when I get older?

Our most recent adventure revealed a plan by the City Administrator to overtake the local air field and stop local pilots from using the services. He had decided there were more important planes to fly, so to speak. Of course, I don’t think he was aware of the spunk and spirit of our local airport mistress. This is how it happened.

“Hey Gavin, you boys haven’t been up in a while. Why don’t you come out and fly with Mitch this afternoon?” Lauren Tate invited us to fly with her husband often.

He flew spray planes and was one of few pilots Mom allowed us to use in our stunt photography. He was good.

“I’ll get Neill and the cameras, we’ll be back about noon?” I asked rushing out the door of the terminal. I’d actually arrived at the airport to check on a flight for Morgan, who wanted to fly in over the weekend. Given good circumstances, Mitch might pick her up on his way home, if I asked. I waited.

The run home took me cross country, I ran down the side of the field to a ditch road and down the ditch to town, where we lived about half a block from the irrigation ditch. Neill and I rode our scooters back to the airport and arrived just as Mitch set down for the noon fuel up.

Mitch was a clean-cut, cowboy type, who wore his jeans tucked into his yellow leather boots and a stetson on his short curly black hair. He didn’t much look like a pilot. He really looked a bit out of place in the plane, but he could fly anything that had wings, and I’d been told he’d even landed one that didn’t. I never asked about that.

With all the noise of planes lining up, we couldn’t hear him talking, but he pointed toward the hanger on the far side and motioned for us to put our scooters in there, so that’s where we took them. We cut the motors long before we got inside and coasted our bikes into the side wall, where we’d left them before. We never talked when we parked the bikes, no rule, just not something we did.

Neill heard it first. He motioned to me and stepped into the shadows. We stood against the wall in the shadow watching as four men walked into the hanger. One I vaguely recognized, the others were strangers. The one doing the most of the talking was the one I recognized.

“If we cut the local flights, we could have three commercial flights a day. That should make this a profitable buy for the city. It would benefit everyone, and these spray boys can find another site to fuel their chemical blasters.”

“When you condemn the property, you’ll have to act fast. This guy isn’t your usual fly-boy, he’s been around the ranch a while. He’s likely to catch on. You’ll have to get his property and boot him out of the saddle before he has a chance to figure out what’s going on.”

They walked past us and we ran out the door. One of them hollered after us, but we kept running past the next hanger, all the way over to the fuel bays where Mitch was fueling up his plane.

I’d go on, but I don’t want to miss up the story for you. This one is the Mystery of the Cowboy Pilot. Keep reading.

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