Mike Mason is the the grandson of the legendary Sammy Mason. Mike wrote into us about his grandfather and the Hollywood Hawks. He hails from a flying family and even tried wingwalking as a teenager. He now owns a Stearman in Washington state where he plans to wingwalk again.
"Margaret, This is a story taken from one of my grandfather's books titled Faith and flight . (Sammy Mason)
'First time performances before a crowd can frequently be more thrilling than necessary. Frances Kari performed her first wing wingwalking at the San Diego a show. Part of her act consisted of standing up on the center section of the top wing while Roy Cusick looped the Jenny. The wind and the G forces vary enough throughout the maneuver that the performer must anticipate when and how to brace for these loads. During the dive to gain speed for the loop, it's necessary to lean forward against the wind. Just before the pull-up , the legs must be stiffened to withstand the g forces. The wind and g loads a minimal when going over the top of the loop, and the performer can relax a bit. However, as the dives through the last half of the loop it's necessary to anticipate increasing wind pressure and g loads. This is where Frances got into trouble. Her knees buckled, and the force of the wind blew her backward. She fell into the aft cockpit on top of Roy, breaking the wind shield, Her feet were still in the support boxes on the center section, with her ankles painfully bent backwards. The safety cable prevented her from falling free. Roy held her up with one hand while he landed the Jenny. Other than a few cuts and some very sore ankles, she was unharmed! The demon of demise was failing at nearly everyone that day in San Diego. However, he was also failing to kill some he took a swipe at. The margin between death and life is often small, but never insignificant."
From the text on the previous page it appears the tragedy at San Diego he is referring to a pylon racing mid air collision between Steve Whitman and Art Chester.
Elsewhere in the book he mentions that Frances Kari ferried the Jenny between shows. He also mentioned that Warren King, in addition to being a wingwalker was the mechanic that put the R-985 on his Stearman.