I’ve heard of going to great lengths, but daredevil “Jersey” Ringel goes to new heights in this photograph. Perched perilously on the top wing of a plane, Ringel appears to be shooting moving film footage, perhaps of another aerial acrobat executing a stunt.Most photographs of Newark native Ringel show him in these kinds of poses, no camera in sight:
The first photo of Ringel is a good reminder that someone had to film aerial acrobatics and stunt flying. Keep in mind what it took to get the shot in the death-defying stunts below:
The aptly named stuntman “Fearless Freddie” is shown performing the first successful transfer from flying plane to moving car, according to caption information with the photo. (The reverse – car to plane – was the more common trick.) All of this is happening at the speed of 78 m.p.h., and presumably the photographer is in a car speeding along in the lead!
Miss Lillian Boyer quit her job as a waitress to take up more daring tasks like wing walking and hanging from airplanes hundreds of feet in the air. Here she is in the middle of a trick she referred to as “the breakaway,” which ended with Boyer hanging by her teeth from a mouthpiece at the end of a thin cable. To the crowds below, she appeared to be falling for a few breathless moments before the cable went taut.
The Hunter brothers are giving the photographers a show according to the caption (below right), as Kenneth Hunter gets his head awfully close to the propeller while brother John pilots the plane.
These literal flights of daring were at the height of their popularity in the 1920s, but began to fade by the end of the decade as aviation become more regulated.
- Enjoy two additional photos of the daring Lillian Boyer in the Print and Photographs Division’s collections.
- See an assortment of images related to airplanes from the 1900s, the 1910s and the 1920s in the Prints and Photographs Online Catalog.
- During World War I, the U.S. built many Curtiss JN-4 “Jenny” biplanes, and sold some of the surplus planes to civilians after the war. These often became the chosen plane for aerial acrobats. View images of a variety of Curtiss airplanes.
- For years before these daredevils took to the skies, circus performers thrilled audiences with tricks high in the air, as advertised in these posters featuring aerialists.