Wingwalking History

From the words of Walt Pierce, American Barstormer pilot, and airshow legend.
Thank you Walt Pierce.
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Hi Margi,
The big flying circuses and the black cats were all folded for the most part in 1929 due to the crash of the stock market.  The roaring twenties kept people coming out to the airports buying rides and gas to get there.  There was lots of money flowing from places like Texaco oil who bought all the gas for Gates.
In 1930 it all dried up overnight and the lead of gates and others ceased to inspire other to continue.
Jim and Jessie Woods were just getting started and had a shoestring budget and started as a small mom and pop operation so they could continue with the younger guys and gals who had adventure in their blood and would eat chicken on Sunday at a hotel and feathers on Monday in a tourist court.
The Air commerce act of 1938 was the final blow for them as the requirement was everyone had to wear a parachute, they had to stay as 1,500 feet AGL and all flying had to be directly supervised at the event.
The CAA granted one waiver to the Fordon-Brown National Air Show but the Flying Aces were already suffering from a broken spirit before they were able to appeal the regs and ask for a waiver.
Jim told the guys and gals to go find other jobs and put the planes up for sale.  Fordon-Brown lasted until 1940 when the backer Gar Wood ran out of money.

Wingwalkers in the 1950s
The Cole brothers resumed people on the wing in airshows about 1949.
The first two men Byron and Merle Torrance, who I met and had a long conversation with in later years.
The first wing stand was build in 1950 because Merle's knees collapsed doing aerobatics and his ankles were broken because his feet were attached to the center section and cables around the waist.
Other male wing riders for the Cole brothers were Lloyd Stoner, Dave Turner, Eldon Peters, and Edward Tate.
The "girl" on the wing began with Donna Vendemark and Judy Cole in 1957.  The first flights were flown by Marion Cole just as he was retiring from the airshow business.
The "girl on the Wing" continued with Bill Adams who bought Stearman N53234 from Marion Cole.
Other wingriders were carried by Ray Miller of Mason City Iowa.  Harold Krier built a wing stand for his Great Lakes prior to 1960 and his first man on the he wing was Red Grant.

Info on the 1960s
(It is taining out so I might as well do the 60s.)
In 1960 Bill Adams had Judy Cole on the wing. Harold Krier had Red Grant in the Great Lakes.
In 1961 Judy Cole's cousin Terry Holmes saw her ride the wing and became inspired.  She teamed with Bud Fountain who was a duster pilot in Modesto CA and they became part of the "Gold Coast Air Shows" with Clyde Parsons in his ranger powered Great Lakes.
By 1962 Rolly Cole had his Stearman going and Judy began riding his wing.  Bill Adams began his own show and one of his ladies on the wing I met was Lee Martin.  When he died in 1966 his rider/stuntman was Don DeBaker, who I worked with in the 1970s.
There were a couple of others operating.
Rod Jocelyn had Bob Trauger who also flew hot air balloons.  They flew mostly in the northeast.
Mel Robinson had Shirley Stafford on his Stearman.  They flew the Atlantic coast from Jersey to Florida.
When Sandi and I bought our Stearman in 1968 they were all gone but Richard Lybarger who was soon killed in a  freak accident on his own airport in Iowa.
His "girl" Patti Deck was left without a pilot and did not ride the wing again until she and I worked together at Chicago in 1971.  Harold Krier had the Great lakes with the wing stand but had basically retired it.