"I do not again need that sudden silence in the engine up there," he confided nervously after he had coaxed his failing airplane into a neat landing.
Because of his outstanding times and because the plane could be fixed in time, his fellow pilots ruled that Cummins should be allowed to compete in the Sunday finals, but not for the top prize money of $8,055. He could compete for glory and lesser cash consolation prizes. But, alas, he was denied even glory Sunday: this time his lap-counter broke and Cummins lost track of the race. When he finally made his move he was too far back and finished fifth behind winner Lyle Shelton, who averaged 373.3 mph.
Despite his troubles, Cummins had greatly contributed to the dramatic success of the first Great Miami Air Race. And the little fellows, Falck and Downey, had made it an artistic success. In the end there was hopeful talk of this becoming an annual event.
But air racing is a hazard in the air and at the bank, and neither pilots nor planes are getting any younger. Downey sagely observed: "You never know what the hell is going to happen up there."
True down here, too.