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

1920s | May 20, 2016

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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