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Putting Wings To Groceries
in every mile of it, if you need it, and there have been forced landings, rarely to be sure, when almost anywhere else the landing would have broken the back of a ship.
There is always a landing field-Gen. Billie Mitchell operated the entire Army Air Corps off Rodanthe when he was upsetting the world's strategists by bombing obsolete battleships 20 years ago-always a landing field within sight, and always a wind that will blow helpfully at landing or at takeoff.  Flat stretches of earth, hard enough to take an automobile at 70 miles an hour and long enough for whatever burden the ship may carry.
A neighborly and tempting country to fly over.....Two mornings
[[Image]] At the left, loading the National Park Service's "flying grocery wagon" on Roanoke Island for a supply flight to work camps in the Hatteras National Seashore.  Two frozen steers, and assorted crated perishables, weighing 2,200 pounds, make up the cargo.

How Isolated Parkway Camps Get Greens
By Ben Dixon MacNeill
Years and years before ever Dave Driskill flew a frozen steer down the Banks in the National Park Service's winged freighter, landing her and there to discharge a haunch of beef at the store-room door of some remote work camp, before that there was airplane traffic above the isolation that flat-beholders call desolation.
Airplane traffic that had to do with life and with death, grim racings with time with time when a life, when two lives, were the stake, a day when the shadow of man's wings across the yellow sands of the Outer Banks meant one thing only-that the United States Navy had come down to take a hand in somebody's losing battle with oblivion.
Yonder at the Naval Air Station this side of Willoughby Beach the Navy kept a great awkward ship always ready, and its crew always wtihin call, and among the crew there was that sort of grimly facetious laying of bets that there is always when death has to be faced.  Taking off they would bet that, this time, the baby would happen right there in the ship.  Then it had never happened, no newly-born had seen the light for the first time through the portholes of an airplane.
Times that were not numbered the great grey ship had lumbered out of the yellow haze that hangs always above the Outer Banks, had picked up its agony-ridden burden and dwindled back into the haze, and the shadow of wings on the yellow made men shiver when it touched them-and let them hope...If it got there, she might live-she and her baby....Or the bloody youth and gray-white, whose 

away.  And of course passengers.  Experiment and exploratory flight has already been made, and the first regular flights will come at about the time the Blue Fish arrive off Diamond Shoals, which is the beginning of summer down here.
II.
It all began to happen a half dozen years ago.  Well, maybe 10 ears, now, when Driskill first came into this country.  It was in that vanished era when expansive gestures were still possible in the world.  Expansive and expensive.  There was some sportsmen disporting themselves into the Hatteras area.  The climate or something kindled their enthusiasm, and they took notions to do something in the grander manner.  They wanted to fly.
And so they send for Driskill who was one of the younger generation of barn-stormers, and commissioned him.  They gave him $60,000 and told him to go and buy them an airplane.  Driskill went to Delaware and came back with $60,000 worth of Bellanca,

[[Image]] Veteran Pilot Dave Driskill with his shoulder resting against a quarter of beef, ready to give the big air freighter the gun.
asked for the ship, got it and began looking around for somebody to fly it.  Driskill, caught in the doldrums that hit flying as well as everything else around 1933, and having already been indoctrinated in this country didn't need to be asked a second time if he would become skin-

after the last experimental flight, some of us were standing within the shadow of Light at the Point of the Cape.  It had been a considerable undertaking to get there.  Or these New Yorkers had so esteemed it, for all they jettisoned most of their established notions of touring

[[Image]] And if you want to land and look at sights, well this is just the village of Avon, 10 miles above the Cape.  Millet might have painted it.

emnly and a little derisively at their expensive moving picture camera and being stopped by Faber's lack of faith in the notation that his shining vehicle needed to dispense with any of the exclusive Fifth Avenue air in its tires.  
Of course, we were engulfed in the first sand ridge through which we sought to pass.  The wheel on Mr. Faber's side of the card, out of which he had reluctantly let the air, just went down and down until the axle was on solid ground and the wheel spinning foolishly in the air.  They were quite hopeless about it, and spoke of the desolation.  There was no helpful being in sight anywhere and our lot seemed hopeless altogether.
Mr. Faber cited the advertisements of tires which say that it is ruinous to go with them half-inflated.  But even that sort of ruin was preferable to spending the rest of the day or the week or a lifetime embedded there out of sight of any habitation of mankind....A truck lumbered to a stop beside us and helpful people got down and pushed gently.  The deflated tire took hold in the loose sand.  The Gabers abandoned their notions and we proceeded until we had drive under the shadow of the Light...Mrs. Faber's father had once bet her that she, who had seen most of the world, would never see Hatteras...It is that remote.
And so we stood there blinking up at the crown of the tallest lighthouse in the world.  Far off there was the

"Ever since I've been seeing airplanes, I've felt their remoteness or something.  They are just out of reach, and you don't know who's aboard them, or anything.  They are in another world...Do you really think they are going to land?"
Well why not.  This is a neighborly country.  And maybe they think they know us, or anyhow that they wouldn't mind knowing us.  Anyhow, by n ow the ship was sitting over there on the beach-and here it is not seemly to forget that five years ago before Dad Byrum started his sand fence there was not enough room to drive a cart between the Light and the Atlantic....Out of it tumbled most of the members of the party who had missed the ferry....It is neighborly country.  Mrs. Faber jettisoned another, and final, notion.
IV.
Neighborly and tempting country and, of course, romantic.  Grimly romantic when you look down upon it from a hundred feet, or a thousand feet....Driving along beside them you never seem them, but just above them, when you look down, there are the bones of dead ships bleached in the sun and the wind, and with salt.  Bitten off, gnawed down to the level of the sand by the wind, so you miss most of them unless you look down at them.
Grimly romantic, these shipwrecks now that their bones are bleached and hidden in the sand.  The ghosts of men who died in them

proudly upon the ocean that reaches out and up to the sky.
Even now there are ships out there.  In the haze yonder, venturing inshore now that Diamond Shoal is past, is a grey hulk that the paper said this morning was a great aircraft carrier due in Hampton Roads in the afternoon-and nearer by, a fair procession of plumed specs, gray against blue, of merchantmen southward bound....Once these bones below in the sane went their ways out there until...
But here are matters that are not so grim.  Here in the middle of the island into which Oregon and New Inlets cut the Banks here is an uncountable company of geese, and out there by the surf as many gulls hover with their hunger.  There are fish where gulls are, of course, and if you dip down, skimming just above the water, you can see them....And hidden in the water there are bones of another ship....
There is not any escaping it-this is the edge of the sea's graveyard.  Swing over until you are just above one of the great dredges with which the Biological Survey is building a haven for innumerable wild fowl, get out the camera and take a crack at the thing-and when you have taken the negative in the light, there bobbing above the surf in the background is the boiler of "Sheridan" whose terrible wrecking is one of the milestones of this country's story.
On the ground down there in the

they get sight of it-or as people do when they approach a graveyard at night.
Or, if not that, then because you need to climb to look at something that is not anywhere else in the world like the thing that you can see there.  Outward from the point of the Cape, stretching 16 miles are The Diamonds, where the North Atlantic and the South Atlantic war unendingly-and the bottom of the sea is littered, more thickly than the sands are littered, with the bodies-not the bones-of ships that are dead.  If the water is clear today, it is like looking down through the glass of a coffin.
Romantic, yes; grimly so.  But still neighborly and tempting.  Changing and changeless.
Or anyhow, the surface of the strip is changing.  These three years, or four, in which Driskill's winged grocery wagon has been feeding men down there, have seen change.  The wandering herds of wild ponies and wild cattle are gone, and grass is creeping back out of the Sounds again, and here and there the green of a stronger vegetation shows.  The winds have piled dunes against fragile brush fencing, and the ocean no longer sweeps across it....
And, not yet very perceptibly, the name of it is changing.  The first time I heard it, in native use, it sounded very strange....The evening when somebody down there spoke of it as "This National Seashore."  By now, the Bankers have begun to think of it as that to


Transcription Notes:
I wasn't quite sure what to do when columns cut off and did not pick up in the next column so I put a hard return between them.

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