"Racing the Storm"

   The decade of the 1930's saw the birth of the American airline industry. Although still heavily dependent on government subsidies from carrying the U.S. mail, the advent of larger, more reliable aircraft had made passenger-carrying operations a practical reality.

   The Curtiss Condor was one of the first of this new generation, a transition between two theories of aircraft design. While carrying its twelve passengers in a comfortable, enclosed cabin, it still maintained the fabric-covered biplane configuration of its predecessors. American Airways put 5 Condors in scheduled service in 1934.

   However, the technology to provide accurate weather forecasts was still some years away, so airline pilots relied on instinct and experience to avoid hazardous weather. Over the treacherous Allegheny Mountains of central New York, boiling summer heat could quickly churn up lines of towering thunderstorms, leaving no route of passage. At this point, the prudent captain would divert to an alternate airfield to wait for the weather to pass.

   "Racing the Storm" by Jerry Anderson captures the moment as an American Airways Condor hurries to land ahead of an approaching wall of severe weather, while a local farmer in his Model T Ford also scurries for shelter.

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