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"I don't know why I write science fiction. The voices in my head told me to!"
- Charles Stross

Bee Wing  
  A flapping wing aircraft in use on Mars.  

“You’ve attended to my bee-wing,* rogue?” I shouted menacingly. He scrambled to his feet, a lanky lad, anxious to please a man with stars on his shoulder.

He beckoned and crossed the field toward a bee- wing, I following.

In a moment I was in possession of the craft, and no hand to stay me. I leaped aboard, stood before the control panel, and worked the levers. The elliptical wings of my craft began to beat the air rapidly, until they were a blur to my sight; until they made such deep, roaring buzz that sound of the outside world was gone entirely.

Exultantly, I strained my eyes out over Cammint. Empty, no staying hand! Good enough! But wait, what was that?

Across at the entrance, a harran officer came running through, waving his arms.

The game was up? No, by God! and I rammed home the final plunger, and the bee-wing took off flapping up into the thin air and forward with such speed that in a matter of seconds Cammint was a dot of light in the darkness, and the city of Jador was sprawled in fantastic shadows below.

I went blind, without lights, never knowing when some similar craft might blunder out of the encircling darkness full tilt into me.

I set my course for the Royal Palace, and had my forward needle guns set for any who dared offer me hindrance.

(* The bee-wing is the airplane of Mars. It is an ancient invention, and the only fuel possible for its operation is radium, rapidly becoming the scarcest of Martian elements. Therefore, the bee-wing is a highly prized possession of any Martian. — Thomp- son’s Sociology of the Martian Nations.)

From Slacker's Paradise, by Malcom Jameson.
Published by Astounding S-F in 1941
Additional resources -

Compare to the thopter from Frank Herbert's 1965 novel Dune.

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  More Ideas and Technology from Slacker's Paradise
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