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These Old Photos Of Daredevils Doing Stunts On Top Of Flying Planes Will Make You Cringe

It wasn't long after the Wright brothers made their historic first flight that daredevils began doing death-defying stunts on, over, and below flying airplanes.

The first known instance of wing-walking was when someone tests a particular model for lateral stability by walking along its wings in-flight. It was done quick and fast, no entertainment factor involved.

But when U.S. Army Air Service Pilot Ormer Locklear, who had a habit of walking out onto the wings of his aircraft to make in-flight tuning and adjustments, parlayed his balancing talents and flying skills into a more lucrative circus career, the wing-walking stunt business started to take off.

Men and women in surplus World War I biplanes dazzled crowds with their risky stunts, like plane-to-plane transfers, handstands, dangling by teeth and more, each performer trying to one-up the others.

Here, take a look at some of these stunt photos...
 

Ivan Unger and Gladys Roy playing tennis on top of a biplane, 1925
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Photo: APIC/GETTY IMAGES

Richard Schindler practicing a stunt, 1919
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Photo: GENERAL PHOTOGRAPHIC AGENCY/GETTY IMAGES

A wing walker standing on one leg on the wing of a Curtiss 'Flying Jenny' biplane above New Jersey, c. 1920
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Photo: TRANSCENDENTAL GRAPHICS/GETTY IMAGES

Wing walkers showing off above and below a biplane, c. 1920
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Photo: K.J. HISTORICAL/CORBIS

Famous wing walker Lillian Boyer dangling from the wing of a biplane, 1922
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Photo: TOPICAL PRESS AGENCY/GETTY IMAGES

1922
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Photo: TOPICAL PRESS AGENCY/GETTY IMAGES

Gladys Engle balancing atop a biplane, February 1, 1926
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Photo: NY DAILY NEWS ARCHIVE/GETTY IMAGES

Gladys Roy walking the wings of a Curtiss JN-4 'Jenny' biplane over Los Angeles while blindfolded, March, 29, 1924
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Photo: TOPICAL PRESS AGENCY/GETTY IMAGES

Richard Schindler practicing a trick on a Klemp plane piloted by Richard Perlia, c. 1927
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Photo: GENERAL PHOTOGRAPHIC AGENCY/GETTY IMAGES

Billy Bomar and Uva Kimmey of the Howard Flying Circus wing-walking on a biplane over New York State, May 13, 1930
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Photo: BETTMANN/CORBIS

Juanita Jover taking a ride strapped to the wings of a Tiger Moth biplane piloted by her boyfriend, stunt pilot Lewis Benjamin, December 1962
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Photo: JOHN HOBBS/BIPS/GETTY IMAGES

Jacqui Cheesman riding the wing of a Tiger Moth biplane at Wycombe Air Park, Buckinghamshire, England, May 22, 1968
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Photo: MIKE MCLAREN/CENTRAL PRESS/GETTY IMAGES

Moira Boyd strapped onto the wing of a Tiger Moth biplane at Wycombe Air Park, May 22, 1968
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Photo: PETER KING/GETTY IMAGES

John Kazian mounting the wing of a Stearman Trainer plane flying over Niagara Falls, Sept. 1, 1971
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Photo: TORONTO STAR/GETTY IMAGES

Carol Lynne riding atop a biplane piloted by her husband over Toronto, Aug. 31, 1982
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Photo: TORONTO STAR/GETTY IMAGES

H/T Mashable

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