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Check Six: The Daredevil Pilots Who Barnstormed Their Way Into the History Books

December 16, 2016


Why Should You Care: Because these daredevil pilots helped convert America to high-powered technology.  –

The locals who lived around Niagara Falls were used to daredevils. They would crowd around the rocks at the mighty waterfall to see people hurl themselves downward in barrels, teeter across tightropes — and often die. But they had never seen anything quite like this.

A tiny machine made of fabric and wood plunged straight down the roaring column of water. Spectators craned their necks as its wings flashed briefly — and vanished in the mist. A few moments later, an airplane roared triumphantly into view. Its daring pilot had yanked its nose up less than 20 feet from the deadly rocks at the waterfall’s base.

The 150,000 people who turned out to see aviator Lincoln Beachey that day in 1911 didn’t know it at the time, but they had just witnessed something much more than Niagara Falls’ latest stunt. Beachey, an angry young man who had fought tooth and nail to learn to fly one of the unwieldy new contraptions that passed for a flying machine, was the beginning of a movement that got America hooked on going fast.

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