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ID
b163
Title
"The Greatest People in the World."
Genre
Story
Page Count
13
Word Count
3120
Publisher
Argosy
Publication Year
1942
Document Types
First-Person Narratives
Flying Officer X Stories
Topics
Pilots, Death

The title story for the first "Flying Officer X" collection is a tale of a boy whose poor farming parents sacrifice to fund his education, during which he hears a lecture where pilots are described as "the greatest people in the world." Bad weather and technical difficulties sabotage his first three assignments in the R.A.F., and he is plagued by nightmares of disaster, a loss of confidence, and then finally the news that his parents have been killed in a raid. Returning from a successful flight, he looks down on a couple working in the fields: he remembered his own people...as they lived, simple and sacrificing, living only for him, and he saw them alive again in the arrested figures of the two people in the field below: as if they were the same people, the same simple people, the same humble, faithful, eternal people, giving always and giving everything: the greatest people in the world." There are similarities between the pilots in this story and another "Flying Officer X" story, "The Bell." In The Greatest People in the World and Other Stories (1942), There's Something In The Air (1943), Something In The Air (1944), The Stories of Flying Officer 'X' (1952), Elephant's Nest in a Rhubarb Tree & Other Stories(1989, with title wrongly printed as "The Greatest People on Earth" on the "Contents" page). Reprinted in Argosy (July 1944), Great Flying Stories (1991).