Comments on the “Great Airport Mystery”

I’ve taken to reading some of the odd volumes of the original “Hardy Boys” series the local library has while I’m there volunteering. This time I pickt out #8, the Great Airport Mystery. My observations:

The book had copyright dates of 1930, 1957, 1966 and 1993. The first was obviously the original publication. The subsequent ones indicate some revisions here or there. I was able to find a reference to plexiglass that was obviously a post-WWII addition, and a comment about building Cape Kennedy hangars would have been added in 1966. I am not sure what was done for 1993, other than possibly remove material. There may have been some offensive material that was excised so it could still be acceptable. Of course now it’s hopelessly dated since we have the following material intertwined in the story:

  • The sole and exclusive presence of landline telephones.
  • Film cameras.
  • Use of low altitude airplanes for picture taking instead of satellite images.
  • Uninhabited Caribbean islands.

The last one is definitely noteworthy and seems to be pre-1930 even. Also, some out-of-contact natives in the Caribbean also figure slightly, which is a definite throwback to earlier times.

I am not sure who was “Franklin W. Dixon” for this book (the name rotated among writers), but whoever it was was definitely familiar with aeronautics. Various jargon associated with the profession turns up and “radiation fog” is mentioned and explained a couple of times.

The Hardys’ have a convertible car (and are evidently old enough to drive) and keep “emergency detective kits” on hand. These contain at least “vivid red paper” that can be torn up and dropped to create a trail.

Corporate branding doesn’t appear to exist in their neighborhood. Company names are uniformly descriptive and bland. This could be a good thing or a bad thing depending on your view of management consultants.

In the past, the DMV was required in most states to provide open access to registration information. This lets the boys look up the owner of a car via its license plate, as opposed to having to let the police do it.

The two know sign language! This is explained as being useful for detective work (I can easily believe that), but is such an ingenious idea on the part of the author that I am quite charmed by it. I don’t know if he (“Dixon”) got the idea from a real life event or person, but it is original in my experience.

I don’t know if I’ll bother with more of these comments, since the books seem to get less likely with later revisions and those are mostly what the library has.

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