Wing walking began as a means for test pilots to demonstrate the lateral stability of early aircraft. The pilot would walk out on the wing of the aircraft and tighten struts or adjust a control surface. Of course, the lunacy developed into what became the birth of stunt flying (very different from the controlled environment of aerobatics). U.S. Army Air Service Pilot Ormer Locklear made a career once out of the military with the Locklear Flying Circus. It’s said that Locklear was the first person to routinely leave the relative comfort of his control seat to make inflight repairs.
After Locklear’s tenure with the Circus, he moved onto Hollywood, starring in the Cecil B. DeMille film The Great Air Robbery. In 1920, he died in a crash during production of his second film.
Wing walking continues today with the obvious associated risks.
Ivan Unger and Gladys Roy play tennis on top of a biplane, 1925.
Billy Bomar and Uva Kimmey of the Howard Flying Circus wing-walk on a biplane over New York State. May 13, 1930.
Gladys Roy walks the wings of a Curtiss JN-4 'Jenny' biplane over Los Angeles while blindfolded. March 29, 1924.
Gladys Engle balances atop a biplane. Feb. 1, 1926.
Wing walkers show off above and below a biplane, c.1920.
Richard Schindler practices a trick on a Klemp plane piloted by Richard Perlia, c.1927.
Richard Schindler practices a stunt, 1919.
A wing walker stands on one leg on the wing of a Curtiss 'Flying Jenny' biplane in the air above New Jersey, c.1920.
Famous wing walker Lillian Boyer dangles from the wing of a biplane, 1922.
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