Sunday, April 22, 2018
Skies over the North Atlantic were mostly clear when the unarmed twin-engine DH-98 Mosquito climbed out of Goose Bay, another factory-fresh fighter-bomber on its way to help the British repel Hitler's war machine. The pilot, an American civilian employed by the Royal Air Force Ferry Command, banked out over the Labrador Sea and powered his agile aircraft toward a rendezvous with the "hurricane express" - a fierce but friendly tailwind blasting out of Canada at nearly seventy-five miles per hour. RAF meteorologists called it "the Iceland Wave." By whatever name, the rushing wind stream promised a faster-than-normal ocean crossing, possibly even another world record, since the captain was taking a rather daring direct route to Prestwick.
Under normal circumstances, the Mosquito's limited range made such a plan suicidal. A straight line to the coast of Scotland was about twenty-two hundred miles - nearly a thousand miles beyond the plane's maximum fuel range. Even with a temporarily installed two-hundred-gallon gas tank lashed to the floor of its empty bomb bay, this fighter-bomber would need a hefty tailwind to avoid ditching hundreds of miles short of land.
Young Captain Kirk Kerkorian was feeling lucky. A month earlier he rode the same air current and shattered the existing nine-hour speed record for an Atlantic crossing by nearly two hours. It was exhilarating, the way winning big at poker was exhilarating. He liked it - the thrill of victory, the rush of adrenaline, the payoff. For a quiet, seemingly mild-mannered guy, Kirk was surprisingly comfortable with risk. At least that's what his poker face suggested.
-William C. Rempel, The Gambler: How Penniless Dropout Kirk Kerkorian Became The Greatest Deal Maker In Capitalist History