Wing walkers in the 1920s have been described as the “ultimate risk-takers of their day.” These daredevils could trace their roots back to Ormer Locklear, a member of the U.S. Army Air Service who started walking onto his Jenny biplane’s lower wing while mid-air to fix flight hazards as a pilot cadet. Although his continued wing-walking ventures were frowned upon in the service, they allegedly boosted morale among his peers and inspired others to perform similar stunts. Locklear became a professional wing walker when he left the Army in 1919. As the “father of aviation acrobatics,” Locklear often performed handstands on the wings mid-flight, and he would wow crowds by using his teeth to hang from the plane’s undercarriage on a trapeze bar or rope ladder. Locklear reportedly used to claim, “Safety second is my motto.” He ultimately died in 1920 while performing an aviation stunt for the film Skywayman.
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