Silver Wings Wingwalking

Hartley Folstad Pilot
Wingwalker Margaret Stivers on a 450hp Stearman Biplane.

The scent of light spirals up from the soul
On Waves of wind it unfurls it's fragile visions,
And flies ever higher on Silver Wings.

"I don't do these things because I want to run the risk of being killed. I do it to demonstrate what can be done. Somebody has got to show the way. I want to do things that people feel can't be done. I don't believe anything is impossible but perpetual motion. I am convinced that someday we will all be flying and the more things that are attempted and accomplished, the quicker we will get there."

Ormer Locklear, 1919

Ormer Leslie Locklear was a Texas farm boy who suddenly found himself part of the razzle-dazzle and glamour of Hollywood in 1919. He had a desire for daring and a rollicking Douglas Fairbanks attitude toward life. He lived everyday as if it were his last...And why not? Every day might well have been his last.

Ormer Image
Ormer Locklear in the cockpit of a Jenny for a publicity still for the William Fox production, The Skywayman

Locklear was known as the "man who walked on wings." He had become internationally famous because of his unusual ability to walk on the wings of planes in flight. But 'Lock" was more than just a man who walked on wings. He was the undisputed king of daredevils and the darling of Hollywood. A short professional career as an aviation stunt man lasted only 16 months: he was killed doing a wing-walking stunt for a film.M

He became the most touted aviator of his day, and there wasn't a country fair from Hartford, Connecticut to the Calgary Stampede in Canada that didn't declare a "Locklear Day" and post him as the leading attraction. At the height of his career he was making $1,000 a day for a half-hours work. His name was a household word. To Locklear, more than anyone can be credited the tremendous boom in barnstorming that captured America in the 20's. He made wing walking an art. He was the first man to change from one plane to another in mid-air, amazing the world, even though most credited him with "more guts than brains."

Ethel Dare was the first woman to change planes in the air. Pretty and petite she was billed as the "1920 Aerial Sensation," the "Queen of the Air" or provocatively as "The Flying Witch." She had been a flying trapeze performer with the Barnum And Bailey Circus.

Ethel Dare Image
Ethel Dare,
the "Flying Witch"

Miss Dare delighted in standing on the edge of a wing and then would suddenly fall backwards into space. A length of rope would suddenly hault her death plunge. Then she would climb back, hand over hand, to perform other stunts. Her specialty, and all of the daredevils had specialities, was the "Iron Jaw Spin." Dangling from the end of a rope with a special mouthpiece clutched between her teeth, Ethel would twirl dizzily in the plane's propwash. Up the rope she would climb for a daring series of calisthenics as the plane circled the fairgrounds.

Gladys Image
Gladys Ingle's mid-air change of planes from one Jenny's wing to another.

There were many sure-footed showmen of the sky. They were a surplus commodity of the Great War: out-of-work aviators. They found a unique and satisfying way to survive, as itinerant showmen of the air. They walked on wings and attempted increasingly reckless acrobatics in mid-air, such as changing planes or transferring from a speeding automobile, train or boat..... And before their show had run it's course, they had introduced a hesitant public to the thrills of flight.

Clyde Pangborn, Jack Shack, Al Wilson, Tiny Broderick, Gladys Ingles, Fronty Nichols, Spider Matlock, Gladys Roy, Ivan Unger and Jessie Woods, (cofounder of the Flying Aces, the last great flying circus) were a few who "Rode The Wild Wind."

I met Wingwalker Margi Stivers and Stearman pilot Hartley Folstad in Orlando, Florida. Margi has been on the wing for 10 years and gave me the fabulous photos which are below.

Their AirShow act is called "Silver Wings" and they perform mainly Margi Stivers And Hartley Folstadthroughout the California and West Coast area. Margi has studied ballet and combines challenging gymnastics and dance during an aerobatic routine of loops and rolls on a Stearman 450hp biplane flown by Hartley.

Margi earned a Masters in Architecture and worked in that field, but after being commissioned for a painting of a Stearman she was smitten. Hartley Folstad provided flight instruction and she earned a commercial license in 1990. Margi says, "After my first wing walk in 1991 I knew I was born to do this."

Click the thumbnails below to view these images.

Wing Walking Margi Stivers Margi Stivers Margi Stivers
Margi Stivers Margi Stivers Margi Stivers Margi Stivers

Margaret Stivers talks about Wingwalking.
This is a PDF file (18KB) and you will need the Acrobat Reader.

Lillian Boyer
Lillian Boyer hangs from the wing of a "Jenny"

Here are two AVI wing-walking movies and one WMV.
Red Ball GifMovie No.1, *.avi  [1,190 K]
Red Ball Gif Movie No.2, *.avi [1,190 K] 
   Red Ball GifMovie No.3, *.wmv  [5.86 mb]

I receive many e-mails per week asking questions about wingwalking. If you are interested in this sport please check out Kirk Wicker AirShows or Utterly Butterly in the UK

Further Reading - Available At

Jessie Woods, Flying Aces Air Circus
On the Wing

Jessie Woods
and the Flying Aces Air Circus
Ann Cooper

Stearman, A Pictorial History
Or use the following link to search Amazon for other aviation related books.
In Association with

Text on this page taken from Barnstormers And Speedkings Epic Of Flight, Time Life Books.
LOCKLEAR: The Man WhoWalked On Wings by Art Ronnie. New York: A.S. Barnes Company, 1973

Wing Walk Gif