26 Jul Breitling Wingwalkers Representing 100 Years of Aerial Theatre
Did you know that the concept of wing walking as a form of entertainment is nearly 100 years old?
Pilots returning from the First World War were well trained, bored and looking for adventure. Aircraft were being sold off cheaply too. Inevitably spirited pilots would try and push the limits through daredevil stunts and barnstorming – quite literally flying through the open doors of a barn!
Climbing out of the cockpit and walking along the wing! Jumping from one aircraft to another in flight! Performing gymnastics on the wing! Just about everything imaginable was attempted.
This form of entertainment was very popular during the 1920s and 30s.
The Second World War put an end to this form of entertainment. That is until frustrated barnstormer Vic Norman founded a wing walking team in the early 1980s that the sight of dare devils performing gymnastics on the wing was again seen in Europe.
- Daredevil grandmother, Betty Bromage, soared into the record books at 140mph when she balanced on the wings of a plane at 200ft in June this year (2017). She became Britain’s oldest female wing-walker aged 88.
- The earliest known instance of wing-walking on a powered aircraft was an experimental flight in England involving a biplane built by Colonel Samuel Franklin Cody in 1911.
- In 1918 an American pilot called Ormer Locklear came up with a stunt that was guaranteed to wow the crowds: he would climb out of the aeroplane and walk along the wing and even climb from one aeroplane onto another.
Today, the Breitling Wingwalking Team is one of Europe’s most famous wing-walking acts and specializes in synchronized performances by its six pilots and five wing-walkers. They are seen live by over 6 million spectators each year in the UK alone and have performed at over 2500 different events and shows.
The Breitling Wingwalking Team can be seen on both days at this year’s Festival of Flight, 19-20th August.