the Wanderling

I never really traveled in flyboy circles, although on-and-off throughout my life I crossed paths with a number of fighter pilots and bombardiers from three wars and airmen from four. The most influential in my life was of course the person I call my Mentor. Although an American citizen he flew for the British in World War I before the U.S. even entered the war after passing through Canada and fudging about his age. He was wounded twice, once in a raging air battle over Europe flying his Sopwith Camel mounted with twin Vickers against a 1000 foot long a Zeppelin.

The above story about the fictional Lt. Stoner being a pilot for the Flying Tigers and having a medal pinned on his chest for his heroic exploits always reminds me of a real life P-40 pilot I met many years after the war. Not a Flying Tiger, just a regular old P-40 pilot in the South Pacific during World War II that ended up receiving a Distinguished Flying Cross with Oak Leaf Cluster, the Air Medal, and the Purple Heart during this tour. The following refers to one of his exploits as found at the link below the quote:

"Coming in low over the target on a second or third pass in the same general area his plane was hit by ground fire, the engine began losing oil pressure. Noticeably disabled he quickly picked up at least three Japanese fighters on his tail. Not being able to engage them on any kind of an equal basis let alone three to one, he decided to evade them by flying through a narrow gap along a mountain ridge causing the pursuing planes to pull up after one of their group slammed into the the mountains. Attempting to reduce the possibility of attracting any more fighters, staying low he arced around hoping to reach Tsili-Tsilli in order to keep both himself and his aircraft intact. Without oil pressure or the oil needed the engine seized basically loosing most operational control of the aircraft. He decided to set down best he could wheels up on a sandbar that turned out to be part of the Waffa River, a subsidiary of the much larger Markham River about 50 miles northwest of Lae, albeit still in enemy territory."


One of the pages I have on the internet follows the adventures of a pilot who, like Lieutenant Stoner in the above, above sequence, flew for the A.V.G., the American Volunteer Group, otherwise known as the Flying Tigers. However the particular pilot I'm speaking of, long after the Tigers were disbanded, turned rogue and continued to fly his P-40 against the Japanese invaders of Free China throughout the rest of the war. Named Ed Hill but known as the Lone Tiger, he and his story is illustrated by my all time favorite artist-cartoonist, Wally Wood, who by the way, is the same artist that did the Flying Tigers sequence above.

There is one flyer who might stand the test against the Lone Tiger, albeit in his own way, deemed possibly more spiritual in nature, and that is the pilot said to be at the stick of the Ghost P-40. Re the following:

"Two American pilots were sent to intercept the mysterious plane. As they approached the plane they radioed back to the ground to report that the aircraft was a P-40 and bore markings that had not been used since the attack on Pearl Harbor. When they pulled up alongside the craft they were shocked to find a bullet-riddled plane with landing gear blown away. Puzzled as to how a plane in this condition could even fly, they noticed the pilot was slumped in the cockpit, his flight suit stained with fresh blood. As they peered into the window the pilot raised slightly, turned in their direction, and smiled offering a meek wave towards his two allies."



Although both the Lone Tiger and the previously presented Flying Tigers sequence, as well as the P-40s depicted in them, are all drawn and presented in a serious tone, Wood himself was a one-time major cartoonist for Mad Comics. One of Woods' most famous stories, and mine too, just so happened to show up in Mad --- a spoof on Terry and the Pirates called Teddy and the Pirates. The biggest draw for me to Terry and the Pirates, besides the milieu and perhaps being in love with the Dragon Lady, was that as the strip and the war progressed the characters were pulled more-and-more into the events surrounding the China-Burma-India theater during World War II --- and especially so the Flying Tigers and the use of the Curtiss-Wright P-40. Below is an example of Milton Caniff's drawing-rendition of P-40s shown with Flying Tiger nose art:

Caniff, famous for drawing Terry and the Pirates had in his mix of characters the previously mentioned Dragon Lady. Below Woods draws my all time favorite visual presentation of the Dragon Lady who he calls the Dragging Lady, and of which is drawn not too dissimilar than what I have always visualized her as looking like myself:

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In later years, staying in a similar but serious theme Wood turned his artistic talents toward a person he called The Infamous Madam Toy as shown in the graphic below:

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Whenever I think Wallace Wood's Madame Toy and her adventures I always think of two women I saw in the small room above the cafe in Los Angeles' Chinatown:

"After a short ride in a taxi I was hustled through the back door of a scummy little restaurant in Chinatown off a pig sty of an alley and pointed to a very narrow wooden set of steps that led upstairs to a surprisingly sunshiny and immaculately kept small room just above the kitchen. In the room were two extremely fine looking skimpily dressed, albeit notably high class mid-20s Asian women sitting on a couch and close by some obviously recently used drug paraphernalia spread out across the glass coffee table in front of them.

"Also in the room was a burly older white man in a dark sports jacket with a white dress shirt opened at the neck and no tie standing with his back to the door staring out the window. The man kept his back to me most of the time while he continued to stare out the window and I continued to stare almost exclusively at one of the women who had not long after my arrival, propped both her feet and long bare legs up on the coffee table knees together. When I glanced over she immediately spread her legs wide apart revealing she was clearly clean shaven all the way up a la a Brazilian or Hollywood wax with no underpants."


In 1962 Wood also contributed his creative skills to a series of baseball-like collectable cards called Mars Attacks. As the cards related to me, one of those Mars Attacks collectables played heavily in what I have written about regarding the possibility of a Roswell ray gun. My uncle is said to have found what was for all practicable purposes a hand-held weapon at the Roswell crash site, only to hide it away by burying it some distance up and behind the debris field. Years later when he told me about the existence of such a weapon the first thing I saw in my minds eye was the disintegrator used by the Martians as shown below in the collector series:


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