Thursday, June 08, 2017

Back in 1920, you could still fly an airplane off the top of LA buildings

Dec. 14, 1920: Stunt pilot Frank Clarke flies an aircraft off the 10-story Railway Building in downtown Los Angeles during filming for the movie “Stranger Than Fiction.”

The Los Angeles Times reported the next day: Frank Clark (later Clarke), 22-year-old stunt aviator, yesterday flew off the 10-story Los Angeles Railway Building at 11th Street and Broadway.

Clark’s plane a J.N. 4 Curtiss, equipped with a L-4 Liberty motor developing 150 horsepower, with a wingspan of 43 feet, larger than any biplane that ever hopped off a battleship’s deck. The intrepid aviator had his plane going about 90 miles an hour when it left the edge of the roof.

The stunt was filmed for the Katherine MacDonald Pictures Corp. released in 1921 as “Stranger Than Fiction.”

Clarke went on to a career as a stunt pilot and actor in several Hollywood movies. Clarke was the chief pilot for the 1930 film “Hell’s Angels” by director Howard Hughes. He died in a non-job-related plane accident in 1948.

Los Angeles Times staff photographer George Watson took these three images

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