A True Tale of Aviation History: Near Death and Determination

In Vegas Only Bookstore by Christine McKellar

Las Vegas local legend, Norm Johnson, has penned a true tale of aviation history in his debut novel, “Four Planes Started  Only Two Finished”.  Over the years Norm has held publicity and management positions with iconic entertainers including: Robert Goulet, Lola Falana, Wayne Newton, Deana Martin, Freddie Bell, Mary Wilson of the Supremes, Charlie Daniels, Fred Travalena, Ray Romano, Gallagher, Esteban and Jack Jones, among others. Norm publishes a weekly entertainment column, “It’s the Norm” which is in syndication and on the Internet. He is also the publicist for the Laugh Factory inside the Tropicana Hotel, working very closely with its co-owner, Harry Basil.


Four Planes Started Only Two Finished

This is the true story of the First Flight Around the World in 1924. It involves four Donald Douglas Biplanes, eight United States Army aviators and more drama than a fiction writer could dream up. In flimsy, open cockpits these eight brave men defied all the elements, even the opposition and derision of their contemporaries. Ultimately they defied death itself! Major Fred Martin and Sgt. Alva Harvey crashed The City of Seattle World Cruiser in the ice-cold mountains of Alaska: The high spirited four-ton cruiser clung to life for a scant second before the left pontoon impacted against the mountain; she skidded along the sparsely covered mountain like a skier. The wings began to tear away, the propeller exploded as the plane carrying its two occupants careened up the mountain. It would be 10 horrifying days before they would reach civilization. Lt. Leigh Wade piloting the City of Boston along with co-pilot Lt. Henry Ogden were flying at 1000 feet over the North Atlantic when the oil pressure suddenly registered zero and smoke poured from the engine. Wade peered below in an effort to determine the direction of the waves. The wind grabbed at his face as the cruiser descended towards the sea. They were rescued by the United States Navy, as the Boston sank.Today in an age when men have been to the Moon and back, and mechanical rovers are traversing Mars, it is easily possible to forget a time many years ago when a journey of any distance by airplanes was truly difficult. This is that Story.