Posts Tagged ‘stunt pilot’

They don’t fly ‘em like that anymore…

Tuesday, January 10th, 2012

Channel surfing the other night, I knew I’d hit the jackpot when I saw the Twin Beech zoom through a hangar. Yup, it was “It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World,” starring Spencer Tracy, Jonathan Winters, Phil Silvers, and two stunt pilots named Paul Mantz and Frank Tallman.

Tallman (are you wondering if we’re related? More on that in a minute*) flew the Beechcraft D-18 through a billboard as well as the hangar. The billboard was constructed of balsa wood so that it would fly apart easily when Tallman blew through it. As it turned out, the balsa wood had been allowed to dry too long and hardened up, and the airplane was damaged when it went through.

As for the hangar stunt, Tallman supposedly practiced three approaches just skimming the roof of the hangar. Trees just east of the hangar at the now-defunct Rancho Conejo Airport near Los Angeles required Tallman to pull up rather sharply after it cleared the opening.

If you’d rather not sit through the three-hour film, a kind soul on YouTube has compiled his favorite flying scenes in this clip. The hangar stunt can be seen at about 8:10.

*Whenever I’m at a show, members of a certain age will squint at my nametag and then ask, “Are you related to Frank Tallman?” I always tell them this: “My husband’s father took him to see Flight of the Phoenix in the theater when he was a youngster. Don pointed to the credits where Frank Tallman’s name appeared and said, ‘He’s our cousin.’ Maybe he believed it; maybe Don wanted it to be true because he was a pilot too. But his son became an amateur geneaologist several years later… and we’re not related.”