unfriendly and inclined toward anger or irritation
In his mind, Henry heard the distant growl of his father: Do something, you idiot. The
surly voice slapped him into action.
attack from above with machine guns or cannon fire
A German Messerschmitt zoomed past to
strafe the bomber’s cockpit one last time.
With a choking gasp, Henry
Oh, I have slipped the surly bonds of earth,
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
Sunward I’ve climbed and joined the tumbling
Of sun-split clouds—and done a hundred things
You have not dreamed of—wheeled and soared and swung
High in the sunlit silence.
the quality of being holy
Up, up the long, delirious, burning blue
I’ve topped the wind-swept heights with easy grace
Where never lark, or even eagle, flew;
And, while with silent, lifting mind I’ve trod
The high untrespassed
sanctity of space,
Put out my hand, and touched the face of God.
the most direct route
The missions had been teeth-gritting
beelines to targets, dogged all the way by men shooting at them.
scold or reprimand severely or angrily
“Get your fingers out of my pie, you sneak,” Lilly
made to feel uncomfortable because of shame or wounded pride
mortified to feel himself blush.
marked by casual unconcern or indifference
He tried to seem
nonchalant. “To tell the truth, Sarge, that picture kills me, because she looks so ladylike. What I love about Patsy is that she’s no sissy. She’s a real spitfire. We could use her fighting the Germans.”
artillery designed to shoot upward at airplanes
If thick clouds and enemy
flak forced them to fly at 24,000 feet—four and a half miles up—the temperature inside the bomber’s open bays could be thirty below zero.
attractive and suggesting hidden passion
Billy was peering into a tiny mirror hung next to a
sultry photograph of movie star Rita Hayworth.
supply with an excess of
Out there, the ground crews were loading bombs and fueling the aircraft. If it wasn’t mechanically perfect, a B-24 loaded with 2,000 pounds of bombs and
glutted with gasoline was a flying deathtrap.
treated as if holy and kept free from violation or criticism
The ground crew and their work were
sacrosanct for everyone.
walk heavily and firmly, as when weary, or through mud
“Hey, didya hear Lord Ha Ha last night?” asked Henry’s navigator, Fred Bennett, as they
slogged across the mud-washed base.
disturb the composure of
Broadcasting in English almost every night, Lord Ha Ha was a Nazi trying to
unnerve the British and American fliers.
lasting for a markedly brief time
And he was startled and mad with himself that for a few
fleeting seconds Billy’s crude comment had sent Henry imagining Patsy in a vivid, not particularly respectful way.
liable to lead to sudden change or violence
That was the kind of threat his Dad would have made. Henry had always promised himself that he’d never be like his
support and strengthen
“I mean it. You’re the steadiest copilot I’ve ever seen.”
a man with whom one has a romantic relationship
Half the base was sweet on her, especially Paul. But she had a
beau in the 303rd, flying B-17s.
a showy gesture
The S-2 pulled back the curtain with a
a rotating support placed between moving parts
“Your target is a ball-bearing plant. Without ball
bearings, Messerschmitts can’t fly, Rommel’s tanks can’t roll.”
a self-contained weapons platform housing guns
He squeezed through the compartment where the engineer operated the
moved or operated or effected by liquid
Following Dan, Henry continued down the list, checking the brakes, and the electrical and
hydraulic systems. They tested flaps, throttles, gears, deicers, and generators.
a valve that regulates the supply of fuel to the engine
They tested flaps,
throttles, gears, deicers, and generators.
Overloaded with 500-pound bombs and almost 3,000 gallons of fuel, Out of the Blue shuddered and
convulsed as she roared along the airstrip.
measure precisely and against a standard
Flak came in bursts of four. Each explosion sounded like a huge door slamming. The first shot generally
gauged the bombers’ altitude for the gunners down below; the second shot measured air speed. The third and fourth usually hit dead on or close to it.
the heavy fire of artillery to saturate an area
barrage would only last a few miles. The real flak would hit when they were over the target.
not to be placated or appeased or moved by entreaty
They were Air Marshal Hermann Goering’s most elite Luftwaffe squadron. They were absolutely the worst fighters to encounter—precise and
ring or echo with sound
Out of the Blue
reverberated with Jim’s frantic shooting. Rat-tat-tat-tat-tat.
avoiding or escaping from difficulty or danger
The bomb group took
evasive action. It swung itself in the opposite direction from the fighters’ roll, hoping the maneuver would throw them off target momentarily.
a dull greyish to yellowish or light olive brown
Finally, Henry could make out the colors of olive
drab and yellow.
hamper the action or progress of
Several planes near them were hit severely enough to drastically slow their engines or
hobble their navigation.
deprive of freedom
Switzerland was neutral. The Swiss
interned Allied and German crews alike who landed there.
a meeting in which someone reports on a mission or task
“Remember to report that at
debriefing,” said Dan.
tending to move away from the middle
Henry knew it was only a matter of a minute, seconds maybe, before her nose would go down. Then she'd start spinning, generating a
centrifugal force that would lock all of them inside until she exploded.
Henry pulled the cord. His chute
billowed open and jerked him up into a float. He was cocooned in a cloud.
a tall tower that forms the superstructure of a building
If he were over a town, or a river, or a forest, he’d be in trouble. His parachute could drag him under water and drown him; trees and church
spires could lynch him.
anything that resembles a feather in shape or lightness
Dan’s parachute turned inside out, blown by the backwash of the Messerschmitt. Instantly, Dan plunged toward earth, a worthless
plume of white canvas streaming above him.
uselessness as a consequence of having no practical result
Blinded by anger and grief, Henry didn’t think about the
futility of trying to shoot down a plane moving at such speed with a handgun.
any of various rough thorny shrubs or vines
He staggered to a
bramble, stuffed the chute into its roots, and covered it with muddy snow.