Frank and Joe are out for a ride in their new coupe, they intend to have a look at the new airport being built outside of Bayport. Suddenly, a plane come swooping down, erratically, and starts heading right for them! It's only with quick thinking and a lucky turn that the boys get out of the plane's way before it crashes on the road.
They help the pilot out of the wreckage only to be accused of causing the crash! The boys are upset and, helped by the plane being an air-mail carrier, coverage of the dispute gets into the papers. Aunt Gertrude was not available for comment, but she would have had some harsh words to say about this kind of scandal.
This is only the beginning. The boys are about the graduate high school, that is, they will if they can get the marks they need on their examinations. A decision has to be made about their futures, too. What happens after high school? There's a lot at stake as thefts begin occurring at the airport and the Hardy Boys are in it up to their necks.
The mystery and adventure here, as usual, come second place to me to the surrounding character and feel of the book. This book is just as much about the Hardys confronting the end of high school, the break-up of their friend group, and thoughts of the future as it is about air-mail theft. This is well-travelled ground, but the "gang" getting together to plan a Class Picnic as one last hurrah together before real life sets in brought back some good memories. A nice addition to my pet theory of Chet + Biff = Love was Chet's initial objection to inviting the girls because "he didn't care for girls". He got over his objection once he was reminded who was doing the baking!
If the above plot sounds confusing, it's because this was another novel that was completely over-hauled in the early 1960s for no good reason. I suppose the wonder of aviation had grown thin in thirty years? The revision involves the boys jetting off to the Caribbean and Montana and thwarting thieves from within a mining company...it's a little much if you ask me. I don't recall, but at what point do they send the boys back to high school? I read 'What Happened at Midnight' early on in my renewed interest in this series, but that was a summer book and still floated the idea that the boys may be forced into college. Admissions must have been a whole lot simpler in 1930.
Next: 'What Happened at Midnight'
Previous: 'The Mystery of Cabin Island'