As a kid growing up in the 1970s, I was fascinated with daredevils and stuntmen, I even wanted to be one. However, despite my antics of riding a skateboard down Sandrock Hill as people on the bus travelling behind me watched in amazement, together with my nan also on the bus admitting “that’s my grandson” with the passengers clapping as they watched my speedy decent down a very long steep hill. Perhaps one of the reasons that I was able to escape the wrath of my nan, was her delight of passengers clapping on the bus, or due to the fact that people talked about it with her for years afterwards? To my knowledge no one else has ever been stupid enough to attempt the stunt on a skateboard since, but we no longer live in the 1970’s. I never did became a stuntman, but to this day I remain fascinated with daredevils and stunts especially wing walking.
The origins of wing walking
In 1918 an American pilot called Ormer Locklear would climb out of an aeroplane and walk along the wing, he even climbed from one aeroplane onto to another. Apparently, Locklear first clambered out of the cockpit to fix a technical problem while training during the war.
In the world of Dare Devils and stunts, wing walking in my opinion has to be one of the most iconic stunts performed and I have always been mesmerised by wing walking, so when I learned that The Wing Walking Company would be in airfield in Lincolnshire, I was determined to go and take the camera.
Today wing walkers are safely tethered to their Boeing Stearman biplanes and you can pay to be strapped to an aircraft if you are under 13 stone and have £400.
As this was my first time at aviation photography, I am pleased with the images I captured, but I would have really benefited with more focal length. I used a Sony 70mm – 200mm GM lens with a 1.x4 Tele Converter, which provided roughly 280mm, I really would have benefited with at a minimum a 400mm lens. When the sun was bright, it really illuminated both the aircraft and the person on top of the wing which really gave the images more punch and definition, usually really bright conditions in photography are not wanted, but sadly the bright conditions did not last.
Prior to returning to the van, we noticed an open hanger and could see a selection of different planes inside, the two men in the doorway beckoned Fran and I over and after a few minutes of conversation invited us in to the Vintage Skunkworks LLP hanger. The guys at Vintage Skunkworks rebuild historical aircraft and make replicas of famous airplanes. We saw original blueprints of planes and learned about fabrication and the stitching of aircraft which was really eye opening and we were very lucky to have been invited inside as its not open to the public.