Saturday, March 28, 2009


Whether it is mere coincidence or whether engagements in the films attracted them to Hollywood, the film city has cradled many of the country’s most daring and widely known aviators.

Art Goebel, first flyer to span the Pacific from California to Hawaii, did all of his early flying in Hollywood. He was a member of a famous band of stunt flyers known as the “Black Cats,” a barn-storming troupe of 13, who played the country fairs and carnivals up and down the Pacific Coast in the early 1920s.

Goebel did a lot of thrill flying for the films, as did Frank Clarke, another of the Black Cats who has made a big name for himself as a stunt pilot.

Clarke is still flying for motion pictures and is currently engaged with Capt. E. H. Robinson of the United States Air Corps Reserve, in the filming of Paramount’s new adventure picture, “Sky Bride,” which features Richard Arlen and Jack Oakie.

Also assisting Robinson with the air scenes for “Sky Bride” are six other daring screen pilots – Ira Reed, Earl Gordon, Roy Wilson, Clint Herberger, Jack Rand and C. C. Le Boutilliere, the latter having been a member of squadron that shot down Germany’s “Red Ace,” Baron von Richtofen.

Dick Grace is among the better known of the film pilots. Frank Dimick and Dick Renaldi, former Black Cats, still make their residence in Hollywood and are pilots with commercial air lines. Frank Hawks, most famous of the transcontinental flyers and holder of numerous records, was a former film pilot.

Today in Hollywood, there are only 16 authorized film pilots, all members of the Association of Motion Picture Pilots. Requirements for entrance into this organization are extremely rigid, and a pilot must demonstrate marked ability before he will be considered for membership.

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