THE CRUISE OF THE CONDOR
Book First Published in August 1933 - 256 pages
This story was later published, in seven parts, as WINGS OF FORTUNE in The Modern Boy, issues 340 to 346, dated 11th August 1934 to 22nd September 1934
Biggles and Algy go to visit Biggles' Uncle. Biggles used to called his father 'Pa' and when he was a toddler called his father's brother, Dick, 'Dickpa' - and the name has stuck ever since. Biggles and Algy find Dickpa's house in a state of siege. Whilst exploring in Brazil, Dickpa had struck the trail of some ancient treasure, but his villainous porters found out and turned against him. Escaping to England, they have followed him and have him trapped in his own house. Biggles escapes from the house with a plan. Returning with a rented aircraft, Dickpa and Algy are rescued from the house and together with Biggles' old Flight Sergeant, Smyth, they all travel to South America on a treasure hunt. They have bought a plane and shipped it out with them. Arriving at Manaos, a settlement on the Amazon River, they find trouble. Dickpa is arrested and thrown into jail by a corrupt official. Biggles gets him out, with the help of Algy and Smyth and they make a getaway in their amphibian aircraft, which they have named the 'Condor'. Suffering a magneto failure, Biggles is forced to land on the river. Here, they are caught up by the current and swept towards the falls. Smyth manages to fix the problem in time for Biggles to fly off the falls just as they go over. Landing, Biggles goes off to explore. When he returns, Indians have captured the rest of the crew of the 'Condor'. Trailing after them to their camp, Biggles uses flares to scare the Indians away and save his comrades. Moving to a safer place, the adventurers travel to where Dickpa has previously found gold in a cave. Here they find that there has been a rock fall and they have to spend time clearing it. On the return journey, they are shocked to see another plane - the villains are after them again. Returning to the 'Condor', they find it has gone! Guessing that the baddies have spotted it from the air and landed to tow it away, Biggles realises that it must be down river. Crossing the Amazon on a Balsa raft to where he knows there is an abandoned canoe, Biggles is able to get them transport. Biggles, Algy, Dickpa and Smyth find the 'Condor' and steal it back. There is a scene in the Chapter called “A Night of Horrors” that is not in the later Thames and Dean & Son reprints of this book. Algy fights a snake on the plane. You can see the scene illustrated in one of the original story illustrations – at the link below. This scene must have been removed because in the reprints they decided to modernise the aircraft, thereby making it impossible for Algy to fight a snake ON the fuselage of the plane when they are IN the modernised plane. Parachuting down to ensure a safe landing area, Biggles watches Algy land and they all make camp. Next morning they and the 'Condor' are attacked by ants. Returning to Dickpa's cave, there is an earthquake and everybody is trapped inside. Smashing their way through a man made wall, a path is found that eventually leads to the top of a plateau. Here they find a vast crater and in it, an old long lost city. Here, the bodies of the long dead inhabitants remain and eventually a huge room filled with a fabulous treasure is found. Taking a few portable items, they plan to return to the 'Condor' and fly up and land on the plateau. Biggles is the first to cross a precarious bridge made out of a tree, when an earthquake strikes and he is lucky to make it to the other side before the bridge collapses. Embarking on a dangerous journey alone, Biggles is attacked by a huge bird called a King Condor and has to survive numerous perils on the small cliff side path. Failing to jump a gap, Biggles falls into a waterfall and is washed to the bottom of the cliff. Surviving this, he is then shocked to find a man in their aeroplane. The man, called Aaron Speakdetruf, has escaped from virtual slavery in a rubber plantation. He helps Biggles to take off and watches him do so - only to be cruelly murdered by Blattner, one of the enemy, who has just arrived - moments too late to stop Biggles. Biggles lands on the plateau and the plan is to load the treasure and fly to Bolivia. However, at that moment the volcano where the plateau is situated, erupts and our heroes are lucky to escape with their lives. Flying away in the 'Condor' they are then attacked by the baddies plane. This plane is armed with a machine gun and Biggles has no armaments. Algy uses an oil drum as a missile and brings the enemy plane down. Flying to Bolivia, the 'Condor' becomes fog bound and eventually lack of fuels means that Biggles has to make a forced landing. Surviving this, Dickpa notices the strange ore in the rocks where they have crash landed. They have discovered silver! Their adventures at an end, they return to England, this time by boat. Having some items of the original treasure and after securing a mining concession on the silver, it has all be very worthwhile.
The Cruise of the Condor
Publication Details - published by John Hamilton
(The frontispiece illustrates a scene from page 239 of the book)
Click on the above to see it in more detail