Ormer Locklear and the Great Air Robbery

 

One of the early great pilots, Ormer Locklear is credited as having invented wing walking, when he went out on the wing of his plane to fix one of his engine’s during a flight.  Legend has it that he first climbed out onto the lower wings during his pilot training in the Army Air Service during World War I. Undaunted, Ormer just climbed out of the cockpit onto the wings in flight whenever there was a mechanical issue and fixed the problem.Great Air Robbery 1By all accounts he does some truly astounding wing walking in this movie, even though no copy of this film seemed to have survived. Sadly, he was killed the very next year at age 28, during the making of “The Skywayman” when his plane crashed to the ground during a night stunt sequence.  The Great Air Robbery was directed by Jacques Jaccard for Universal.  I’d like to add that at this time, stunt flying really seemed to take off in motion pictures and the camera operators were just as daring as the pilots. The footage they had to get was so grueling and spectacular, I wish I could give awards to each and every one of them as stunt performers themselves. It was a very exciting time in aviation history.

Ormer Locklear started out as a daredevil of tricks moving in and out of vehicles when he became fascinated with flying.  After World War I where he was in the US Army Air Service, he started his own barnstorming show with a few fellow flyers and this lead to California, where he performed aerial maneuvers for the movies. On November 8, 1918, Locklear wowed the crowd at Barron Field, Texas, with his daredevil wing-walking stunts. Wing walking was seen as an extreme form of barnstorming, and wing walkers would constantly take up the challenge of outdoing one another. They themselves admitted (or rather proclaimed proudly) that the point of their trade was to make money on the audience’s prospect of possibly watching someone die.  Ormer Locklear also led the charge with the first plane-to-plane transfer, and many followed.great air robbery

Things to look up (click on item to go to IMDB):

Glossary of stunt terms as defined by Wikipedia:

  1.  Daredevil – A person who does dangerous things especially in order to get attention.  An example of this would be Evil Knieval, who never did any stunts for movies but in front of a live audience or taped as a spectacle itself.
  1.  Barnstorming – Barnstorming was a popular form of entertainment in the USAin the 1920s, in which stunt pilots would perform tricks with airplanes, either individually or in groups called a flying circus. Barnstorming was the first major form of civil aviation in the history of flight.
  1.  Wing Walking – Seen in airshowsand barnstormingduring the 1920s, wing walking is the act of moving on the wings of an airplane during flight.

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