Back from oblivion last week came Colonel Hubert Fauntleroy Julian, the "Black Eagle of Harlem," whose exploits in aeronautics kept Manhattan city editors in copy during the years before World War II. Colonel Julian came to public view, with a riffling of $1,000 bills, as he boarded an airliner to leave Guatemalan City, fared from his latest position as arms buyer for the Guatemalan government.
Julian frankly admitted that "what has happened to me here hurts." But the Black Eagle has become accustomed to a fantastic up & down career in the years since 1923, when he learned parachute jumping from Clarence Chamberlin (who later flew the Atlantic). Chamberlin found Julian a reluctant student, finally made him jump by flipping him off the wings of an Avro biplane. Julian landed safely, still clutching a strut he had ripped from the Avro. The Eagle later made many spectacular jumps over Harlem, playing a saxophone as he floated down in red tights. He also learned to fly himself.
A few years later, Julian was hired to enliven the coronation of Haile Selassie as Emperor of Ethiopia. While 50,000
Ethiopians watched, he 'chuted to within 50 feet of the Lion of Judah's throne at the Addis Ababa airport. "So delighted was the King," Julian recalled, "that he climbed down most unprecedentedly from his throne, slapped me on the back, swore me in as an Ethiopian citizen, made me Colonel of the Air Forces, pinned on my chest the Menelik medal for bravery, and gave me 5,000 bucks in cash!"
At the beginning of World War II, the Eagle challenged Hermann Göring to a duel in Messerschmitts at 10,000 feet over the English Channel. "We'll see who's the biggest baboon," he remarked, but Goring ignored the challenge. Julian dropped from the front pages, sold used cars in Harlem for two years, then enlisted in the U.S. Army. He spent two uneventful years as an Air Corps sergeant in the U.S.; after the war he started the Black Eagle Airline, which never got off the ground.
In 1949 the Eagle learned that the U.S.
Government was refusing to sell arms to the Red-tinged Guatemalan government. He hurried to Guatemala City, claiming that he could buy "anything from boots to an atomic bomb." By his accounting, over the las't three years he bought in Italy, Switzerland and Spain, and sold to Guatemala, forty .50-caliber machine guns, six half-tracks, 3,000 pairs of boots, 20 bulletproof vests, and trucks, jeeps, rifles, bazookas and ammunition. He netted some $200,000, tipped barbers at the Palace Hotel $5 for a 75¢ haircut. But Guatemala, nettled by the Eagle's noisy revelations of their dealings, last week broke off its purchases. Julian, now 55 ("and all bone and musclefeel my arm!"), took this reverse manfully. "I'd grow old if I didn't get slapped down once in a while," said he. Then he headed back to his home in The Bronx.