Wings Over The Worldconby
Forrest J. Ackerman
Here's your complete report on the 15th
THE FANTAPLANE, twenty-one hours after leaving New York, circled the clear British skies above North London airport. Inside The Flying Dutchman excitement was at a peak as 55 euphoric Americans prepared to disembark from their historic flight and be feted by their hosts, the Anglofans.
(Brief moments before the famous landing, the first airborne s.f. conclave --the Klemcon- was held in the sky. Inspiration of Stephen Schultheis, this conlet of sixty seconds duration in its short existence established, if nothing else, a record "high," topping the Mylhicon (or Denvention) of 1941 located in mile-high Denver. Of course I would not put it past Bob Bloch to dispute this statement and contend that the Alcoholicon, at which George O. Smith was Guest of Honor, was the con at which everyone got highest. But the Klemcon was a notably sober affair at which no one was caught with his pints down, for, as Weaver Wright observed when accepting the Dramamine Award for 1957, "Two pints invariably make one cavort." The Klemcon (for KLM) was not in honor of Katherine L. Moore but the Kyle-Landis Marriage, of which we shall hear more presently. In the meantime, this is to scotch the rumor that the purpose of the hasty conference was to have same sort of a meeting in the event the British saw us coming and greeted us with a bang-bang of ack-ack. But there was no sinister barrage.)
Now the great silver avian from Gotham was about to volplane to earth, to earth to set down an English soil the 55 "stateside" scifans and pro's who had for the first time in more-than-human history chartered their own plane to transport them 3000 aerial miles to the Old World where the 15th World Science Fiction Convention would take place.
Flight of fantasy!
It was Dave Kyle, chairman of 1956's Worldcon in New York, who had sacrificed himself to make this vision a reality. They laughed when he knelt down to pray; he heard the skeptics say, "If God had meant fans to fly, he would have provided them with holes in their heels instead of their heads so they could use their hot air to jet with"; but now Kyle's moment of truth had come. The first man who will set foot on the Moon has already been born. Willy Ley and Arthur Clarke have told us so. We do not yet know his name, but everybody aboard the Fantaplane knew the name of the man who deserved to be the first out the hatch and down the gangplank. It was only a question of whether Kyle would have the energy left to carry his bride across the threshold.
Dave Kyle---fan, author, organizer -- participated in the First Worldcon in 1939, has attended, and contributed in some measure, to nearly every one since. Ruth Landis, one of the cutest and sweetest fannes the world has ever seen, met her husband-to-be at the Cinvention in 1955. Two years to the day she met him, Ruth became Mrs. David Ackerman Kyle at an impressive wedding attended by Groff Conklin, Frederik Pohl, Mr. and Mrs. Leo Margulies, Richard Wilson, Leslie Perri, Martin Greenberg, Hans Stefan Santesson, other s.f. personalities, and Yours Sciencerely.
This was the nuptial flight--a honeymoon shared with over half a hundred sci-fi fen and professional pen-men--and it was only natural and right that the hubby- mooning Ruth and her gallant groom should be the first to fling wide the aeroplane's portals and, Gods of the Sky, descend to be greeted by the native mortals who awaited them.
On the interior of the ship it became now only a matter of jockeying for 2d, 3d and 4th places. Robert A. Madle, as winner of the TransAtlantic Fan Fund, it was felt was entitled to follow Ruthandave (or Davenruth, whichever way you looked at this inseparable pair), but who should be next: Sam Moskowitz, Historian of Fandom? Forrest J. Ackerman, Mr. Science Fiction? George Nims Raybin, Legal Officer of the World Science Fiction Society? or Franklin Dietz, Official Tape Recorder of the Cons?
Nervously MRS. Ruth KYLE moistened her lips and sotto voce kept repeating "cheese." Bob Madle consulted his cuff. Sam Moskowitz was unperturbed. For the nth time Fja mentally reviewed his extemporaneous speech (he had decided to let Moskowitz precede him so Sam would be sure and hear it and record it for posterity in THE IMMORTAL STORM BLOWS AGAIN):
"This is the realization of HGWells' prediction of Wings Over the World; we are, to paraphrase Leslie F. Stone, Fen With Wings. As a boy of nine I never dreamed that 30 years later--"
And then the door was flung wide and a kaleidoscope of sights and sounds hurricaned inside. Confetti whirled like technicolored snowflakes and there was a montage of shouting, a roaring well of WELCOME HURRAY! HEY, SAM! LOOK THIS WAY! etc. as flash-bulbs popped and hands were shaken and microphones were thrust into' faces and reporters' ballpoints went into action and Ted Carnell's camera whirred away (Carnell kept wanting the passengers to go up the plank Again and descend so he'd be sure to record the historic occasion) and--
"Technical Advisors!" the movie director swore under his breath as this particular pest, someone named Forrest J. Ackerman who had been hired to insure accuracy in 21St Century-Fox's filmization of Sam Moskowitz Jr.'s THE ETERNAL CYCLONE, sped over the set in his jet-propelled wheelchair. Ackerman, with his insistence on historical truth; was lousing up the whole script, minimizing melodrama to the point of invisibility. First he had insisted the plane had carried only 55 passengers, not 500; next he wouldn't permit a little literary liberty like a propeller falling off over Newfoundland; he wouldn't sanction an encounter with a flying-saucer over Shannon, an emergency operation on Boyd Raeburn for Twonk's Disease (performed by guttering candlelight by Robert Abernathy) or a striptease by Valkon Anjoorian to liven up the wee small hours aboard the plane; and in particular he was pesky about vetoing Della Mondela to play the role of Ruth Kyle. So what if Della with her 6'5" of pneumatism topped by a flaming crop of red -hair wasn't exactly Ruth's petite, demure type? -- she was esaro-boxo (motion picture terminology of the year 2000 indicating the star in question would line the customers up at the bucks-office and guarantee to stand 'em the aisles at every show).