Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Those Daring Young Men (and Women)in Their Flying Machines

Regulations for Operations of Aircraft, Commencing 1920

  1. Pilots will not wear spurs when flying.
  2. Hedgehopping will not be tolerated.
  3. No machine must taxi faster than a man can walk.
  4. Don’t take the machine in the air unless you are satisfied it can fly.
  5. Riding on the steps, wings or tail of an aircraft is prohibited.
  6. If an emergency occurs while flying, land as soon as possible.

Following World War I, the government was left with a surplus of Curtiss JN-4 “Jenny” bi-planes to sell. The planes had cost the government $5000 to build and were sold as low as $200.  This created a buying frenzy among servicemen who already knew how to fly them. 
Pilots often had to walk on the wings to make adjustments, but it was Army Pilot Ormer Locklear who first saw the potential of making money by wing-walking.  Thus, a new form of entertainment known as barnstorming was born.
Bessie Coleman (wikipedia)
Soon the air was filled with single barnstormers and flying circuses.  This new breed of aviators performed daring mid-air tricks for the purpose of selling rides to spectators. Charles Lindbergh was one of the early barnstormers and he charged five dollars for a fifteen-minute ride.
It wasn’t long before women got into the act.  Women couldn’t vote, but there was no holding them back in the air.  Bessie Coleman, the first female African American wing walker claimed that “The air was the only place free from prejudices.”   
Women proved to be more agile than men and their daring stunts knew no end. Female barnstormers took to the wings mid-air to do the Charleston, play tennis and suspend themselves with rope.   The first woman to switch planes in the air was Ethal Dare.
Tennis, anyone?
Barnstormers didn't just entertain, they introduced the country to the wonders of new technology. However, the golden age of barnstorming didn’t last long. As competition grew and tricks became more dangerous, accidents were more numerous. After several noted barn-stormers were killed, the government stepped in with safety rules that all but brought an end to the dangerous profession.  

What's the most daring thing you've ever done?

Mayhem reigns when four mail-order brides get cold feet. 


1 comment:

  1. Nothing I have ever done would compare to this! And I am not a danger-seeker by nature. Thanks for the post!