Every year, Norm would take a vacation from his job as an aeronautics engineer at Hughes Aircraft to go hiking in the Sierra Nevada mountains.
Norm liked to cut his own rough trails through the forest, which was why he was so surprised when he came across the old DeSoto. 1947 or 48 by the looks of her. His Dad owned one like it when Norm was a kid.
The trunk was half open. There was something bulky inside. Norm pulled the lid free and unwrapped the heavy, oiled canvas tarp.
“Oh my God, it can’t be.”
He remembered the old newsreels and stories his Dad told him about the hero. He wore a metal helmet, and with his rocket pack, fought the Nazis in the 30s and 40s. He’d disappeared without a trace. How his equipment got here, Norm couldn’t figure, but he knew he could get the old engine working.
With the Soviet threat looming and the race to the Moon heating up, it was time for the Rocketeer to fly again.
I wrote this in response to the FFfAW Challenge-Week of March 14, 2017. The idea is to use the photo prompt at the top to write a piece of flash fiction between 100 and 175 words, with 150 being ideal. My tale comes in at 174 words. Wish it was less, but I needed that many words to do the set up for my reveal.
To read more stories based on the prompt, visit InLinkz.com.
You can tell only by inference, but I set my story in the early 1960s. My late father-in-law worked at Hughes Aircraft, founded by the famous aviator and inventor Howard Hughes. The corporation no longer exists and Hughes is long dead, but I decided to use the company because it made a nice connection to the Rocketeer’s period in history. The comic book character was created by Dave Stevens in 1982 as an homage to the Saturday matinee serial heroes of the 30s and 40s.
In the 1991 film starring Billy Campbell in the lead role, a fictionalized Howard Hughes actually invented the rocket pack, which was stolen by gangsters and hastily stashed in stunt pilot Cliff Secord’s plane.
In both the comic book and film, Secord uses the rocket pack to become the superhero the Rocketeer. The story of this retro-hero is one of my guilty pleasures. I’d love to see the Rocketeer fly again.