(c) 1995 Milton Sandy, Jr.

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    Excerpts from:

                              H.Hugh Wynne

PICTURES:  Roscoe Turner's Sikorsky S-29 while it was being used to fly
           Curlee Clothes representatives to their sales territories.
           Courtesy: Source unknown [p.63]

           The Sikorsky S-29 at Caddo Field after it became a "Gotha"
           bomber for "Hell's Angels."  Courtesy: Frank Tomick [p.63]

           Roscoe Turner by Frank Tomick's Fokker D. VII at Caddo Field
           during the filming of "Hell's Angels."  Courtesy:  Frank
           Tomick [p.67]

           Camera extension on the nose of the Sikorsky whereby Ben Lyon
           photographed himself in the air with a remote switch in the
           cockpit.  The man with the tool box is Phil Jones, who was
           killed in the bomber crash. Manuel Zamora, who was the
           explosives expert on the picture, is in the front cockpit.
           Cameraman Don Brigham is on the ladder.  Courtesy: Frank
           Tomick [p.69]

           Horseplay at Caddo Field during the filming of "Hell's
           Angels."  From the left:  Al Wilson, Roscoe Turner [holding
           hand of Ben Lyon], Jack Rand, Roy Wilson (kneeling), Frank
           Clarke, Ben Lyon (on pony), Frank Tomick, Jimmy Barton
           (kneeling) and Harry Crandall. Courtesy:  Frank Tomick [p.70]

           Planning a scene for "Hell's Angels" at Caddo Field.  From the
           left: Harry Perry, asst. director Freddy Fleck, Roscoe Turner,
           Frank Clarke, Al Wilson, Harry Crandall (kneeling), Roy
           Wilson, Frank Tomick and Jack Rand.  Courtesy:  Frank
           Tomick  [p.71]

           Last minute briefings before taking off from Oakland Airport
           for the dogfight scene in "Hell's Angels." [Roscoe Turner's
           Sikorsky in background]  Courtesy:  Frank Tomick [p.74]

           The pilots, cameramen and ground crews posed by the airplanes
           used in the main dogfight scene of "Hell's Angels."  [Roscoe
           Turner's Sikorsky in front in center of photo]  Courtesy:
           Harry Perry [p.74-75]

           The Caddo Field crew of pilots and cameramen, except for Roy
           Wilson, by the Sikorsky at Oakland Airport.  Standing from the
           left: Roscoe Turner, Burton Steene, Frank Tomick, Billy Tuers,
           Ross Cooke, Earl Gordon, Garland Lincoln, Clinton Herberger,
           Jack Rand, Bob Starkey, Harry Crandall, J.B. Alexander and
           Jeff Gibbons. Kneeling from the left: nate West, Burton
           Thomas, R.S.McAllister, Harry Reynolds, Ernie Smith, Ira Reed,
           Frank Clarke, Al Wilson, Elmer Dyer, Harry Perry, and Don
           Brigham. Benny Colgren stands in the Sikorsky window.
           Courtesy: Garland Lincoln [p.76]

           The Caddo crew, except for Roy Wilson, with additional pilots
           from the Oakland area.  Standing from the left:
           R.O.Shellaire, A.F.Mickel, John Penfield, unknown,
           C.F.Sullivan, C.E.Dowling, George Ream, unknown, Tom Penfield,
           Stuart Murphy, R.S.McAllister, Roscoe Turner, Burton Steene,
           Frank Tomick, Jack Rand, Harry Crandall and Elmer Dyer.
           Kneeling from the left:  Harry Reynolds, Ira Reed, Ross Cooke,
           Julian Wagy, unknown, unknown, George Willingham, George
           Parker, Garland Lincoln, Bob Starkey, unknown, J.G.Walsh,
           Clinton Herberger, and unknown. Seated from the left: Harry
           Perry, unknown, unknown, J.B.Alexander, Billy Tuers, Jeff
           Giffons, Frank Clarke, Ernie Smith, Al Wilson, R.A.Patterson
           and Earl Gordon. Courtesy: Frank Tomick [p.77]

           Part of the "Hell's Angels" crew at Caddo Field.  From the
           left standing:  Roy Wilson, Al Wilson, Burton Steene, Frank
           Tomick, Roscoe Turner, Rank Clarke, Harry Crandall and Ira
           Reed.  From the left kneeling:  Ross Cooke, Jack Rand, Ernie
           Smith, Earl Gordon, Harry Perry and Harry Reynolds.  Courtesy:
           Frank Tomick  [p.79]

           A Curtiss Jenny with dummy engine nacelles, made to resemble
           the Sikorsky and orginally planned for the spinning and crash
           scene, but it caught fire in the maintenance shed.  Courtesy:
           Jimmy Barton  [p.79]

           Ira Reed enjoys spoiling Roscoe Turner's picture as Turner
           poses in a Royal Flying Corps uniform. [Roscoe Turner posed in
           front of skull and arrow symbol on side of the Sikorsky with
           Ira Reed hiding below out of Roscoe's sight with middle finger
           of one hand raised and grinning like the devil at the camera]
           Courtesy: Jimmy Barton [p.80]

           "Dawn Patrol" pilots and ground crew, who are working as extras,
           at the German airfield location near Saugus.  Roscoe Turner
           and Frank Tomick are standing at the left.  Roy Wilson in
           helmet and goggles is seated on the sand bags.  Next to him in
           German officer's uniform is Ira Reed.  Leo Nomis sits in the
           center with helmet and goggles.  Rupert McAllister is in the
           white sweater and Jimmy Barton is seated on the ground in
           front of Leo Nomis. Courtesy: Frank Tomick [p.102]


          ...The motion picture studios avoided stories about World War I
  for several years after 1918 because the public was caught up in the
  "Roaring Twenties" spirit of abandon, and wanted to forget the recent war
  and its horrors.  But Metro Goldwyn Mayer's 1925 war film, "The Big
  Parade," was well received and opened the way for a long series of
  feature films that utilized both the ground war and the air war as a
          "Wings" was the first major motion picture to use large numbers
  of airplanes as a spectacle.  The story was written by John Monk
  Saunders, who served as an army flyer in the training command during the
  war.  The script called for squadrons of military airplanes to be
  photographed in formations and in dog fights.  Airplanes were to be
  crashed, balloons were to be shot down, and a huge ground battle
  requiring thousands of troops was to be enacted....   [p.54]


          ...Several other aviation pictures were in various states of
  production when Howard Hughes entered the Hollywood aviation scene in
  1927.  Hughes had already been introduced to the motion picture industry
  through his novelist uncle, Rupert Hughes, who was engaged in screen
  writing during the early 1920s.  With an almost unlimited income from the
  Hughes Tool Company in Texas, inherited from his late father, the young
  Howard Hughes financed Marshall Nielan's production, "Everybody's
  Acting."  When this returned a handsome profit, Hughes organized Caddo
  Productions, and made a successful film titled "Two Arabian Knights."
  After seeing "Wings" several times, the young millionaire decided to make
  an aviation epic of his own....   [p.62]


          ...Howard Hughes was now almost totally involved with "Hell's
  Angels" and the production expanded....
          No one was able to locate a Gotha or any other kind of German
  bomber from World War I.  With the exception of one or two in museums,
  they had all been destroyed by age or under the terms of the Versailles
  Treaty.  The best available compromise was the Sikorsky S.29, a large
  twin-engine biplane about the same size as a World War I bomber, built in
  this country by Igor Sikorsky and a dedicated group of Russian   
  immigrants.  Roscoe Turner purchased this airplane in 1926 with plans for
  an airline between Atlanta and New York, but a lack of financial backing
  forced him to use the big Sikorsky for advertising.  For a while he
  promoted cigars for the United States Cigar Company and hauled the
  products to various stores around the country.  Turner was flying top
  salesmen of the Curlee Clothing Company to their sales territories when
  he answered Frank Tomick's telegram and agreed to lease the airplane to
  Hughes for the picture. [162]
          Roscoe and Mrs. Turner arrived at March Field in March 1928, and
  were met by Frank Tomick, who came out to guide them to the Caddo Field
  location.  Roscoe Turner was a colorful figure, justifiably proud of his
  flying ability, and confident of his airplane.  Both he and his wife, who
  usually accompanied him, flew without parachutes.  When it was time to
  take off on the last leg of his cross-country flight to Caddo Field,
  there was a little bit of ice in Turner's eyes as he watched Frank Tomick
  take a parachute from the studio car that brought him to March Field,
  buckle it on and climb aboard the Sikorsky.  But that small blow to
  Turner's pride was almost forgotten during the flight over the huge Los
  Angeles Basin, and had completely disappeared by the time Tomick pointed
  out the pasture that was Caddo Field. [163]
          Newspaper reporters attended a staged publicity event several
  days later when four Fokker D.VII's escorted the "Gotha" bomber into
  Caddo Field.  Turner and his wife were welcomed by Howard Hughes, Gretta
  Nissen, James Hall, Lucien Privall, Wallace Beery, Edna May, Merna
  Kennedy and other members of the motion picture community. [164]
          James Dunavent's important preservation of Jimmy Barton's memoirs
  on tape reveals some interesting details of the Sikorsky:

               "After Roscoe got there we seen that the Liberty engines was
      run out and would have to be replaced before the ship could be flown
      much.  I located two overhauled Liberties in San Diego, and the
      studio gave me a check, and I went down and bought 'em.  We did the
      engine changes with a pair of shear legs made from heavy poles-
      didn't have no cranes for that then.
               "It had a solid, or rather glassed-in cabin-type nose.  We
      put a gunner's pit with a ring, and a fake pilot's cockpit behind,
      under the center section leading edge.  It had a control wheel and
      yoke for realism, but all the flying was done from the pilot's
      cockpit aft.
               "We rented the guns from Steimrich at Paramount.  Otto
      Steimrich had the arsenal there.  Didn't have no laws then like there
      are now.  They had trouble with getting them to fire more than once
      until Manuel put something on them so they'd fire bursts with the
      blank shells.... [165] [p.87]


          ...With most of the "Hell's Angels" air scenes complete, and the
  winter rains approaching, Howard Hughes turned his attention to editing.
  Except for a few minor pickup scenes, the spinning down of the bomber was
  the only major scene yet to be complete.  The original plan for that
  scene called for the use of a Hisso-powered Jenny with dummy
  engine nacelles on the lower wings.  The Jenny "bomber," which would 
  resemble the Sikorsky from a distance, was to be put into a spin, set afire, 
  and after the pilot had bailed out, to be photographed all the way to its
  crash by three camera planes flying at high, medium and low altitudes.
          Before this scene could be shot, the Jenny "bomber" caught fire
  in the maintenance shed at Caddo Field.  It was rolled out before the
  fire spread to the shed, but all the fabric was burned from the
  framework.  It was assumed that a new sheet of aluminum that was leaning
  against a wall near the Jenny had reflected enough heat from the sun to
  cause the newly doped fabric on the airplane to ignite. [179]
          The frame and landing gear were intact, but all fittings and
  wires had been warped and weakened by the heat.  Rather than have it
  compeletly rebuilt for flying, Hughes decided to recover it the way it
  was, and use it for a crash scene only.  It was subsequently taken to a
  dry wash near Santa Paula, set afire and pushed from a bluff just out of
  camera range, and phtographed as it hit the ground. [180]
          The Sikorsky itself would now have to be used for the air scenes
  of the spin, though this was not in the original agreement with Roscoe
          The spinning scene continued to cause problems.  After the Jenny
  fire, Roscoe Turner was furious when Hughes held him to a fine print
  clause in the agreement that transferred ownership of the Sikorsky to
  Caddo Productions when the lease payments equaled the appraised value of
  the airplane.  Neither Roscoe Turner nor anyone else expected the
  production to last long enough for the lease payments to reach that
  level.  According to Jimmy Barton, Hughes and Roscoe Turner engaged in a
  shouting match and nearly came to blows in Hughes' office at Caddo Field.
  After this incident, Turner left the picture and went back east to seek
  legal advice. [181]
          In the meantime Hughes proceeded with the ill-fated spinning
  scene, but was unable to find a pilot willing to perform a maneuver so
  far beyond the design capabilities of the airplane.  Two pilots on the
  picture, and two pilots who were brought in from the outside, were
  tempted by the generous bonus offered by Hughes, but changed their minds
  after taking the Sikorsky up to get the feel of it in the air.
          Years before, movie flyers had discovered that when lamp black
  was released from an airplane, it floated in the air like heavy black
  smoke.  When it was thrown out by hand, the intensity of the smoke was
  erratic and varied from thick to thin as each portion was dumped into the
  slipstream.  To insure an even discharge of lamp black from the Sikorsy
  as it supposedly spun down on fire, Hughes insisted on a mechanical
  blower system.
          Jimmy Barton was scheduled to work the smoke equipment during the
  spin.  On the day before the spin, Barton went up for a test flight with
  one of the pilots who wanted to collect the bonus.  While making his way
  along the cramped aisle in the cabin that was jammed with hoppers,
  blowers and ducts, Barton's parachute ring caught on a projecting piece
  of equipment.  The pilot chute quickly snapped open and flew back along
  the passageway that ended with two steel steps up to the pilot's open
  cockpit behind the wings.  The pilot, who sat on the left, was barely
  able to grab the silk before the entire chute billowed into the
  slipstream.  If he had missed, Barotn would have been dragged along the
  various metal projections and sharp edges that line the narrow
  passageway. [182]
          After several pilots tried the Sikorsky and changed their minds,
  Al Wilson agreed to take the job.  He was confident that he could spin
  the big ship down several thousand feet for the cameras, and then recover
  for a landing.
Related information: Excerpts from I COULD NEVER BE SO LUCKY AGAIN
          Phil Jones, a mechanic on the picture, persuaded Jimmy Barton to
  let him fly in the bomber as he needed the extra money for an emergency.
  Being smalled than Barton, Jones could move along the aisle easier than
  the stocky mechanic who had first choice on the assignment. [183]  Hughes
  agreed to the change, but Al Wilson didn't want anyone else in the
  airplane.  A system of wires was installed for Wilson to operate the
  smoke equipment from the cockpit. [184]  Frank Tomick realized the danger
  of the stunt, and since he had arranged for Jones to work on the film, he
  tried to persuade the young mechanic to change his mind.  Tomick had
  worked with Al Wilson for years, and he knew that if Wilson said he was
  going to spin the bomber, there would be no backing out. [185]  But Jones
  was eager to earn the bonus, and Hughes was confident a better scene could
  be photographed if Wilson concentrated on flying the airplane while a
  second party worked the smoke equipment.
          All of the preparations reached a climax on March 22, 1929.
  Frank Tomick, Frank Clarke, and Roy Wilson flew the camera planes which
  carried Harry Perry, Burton Steene and Elmer Dyer.  Tomick's position was
  at 7,000 feet.  Frank Clarke was at 4,000 feet and Roy Wilson flew at
  1,000 feet to catch the final spins of the Sikorsky before it levelled
          The Sikorsky, the three camera planes, and Hughes in his own
  airplane took off from Caddo Field around 3:00 p.m. and headed northeast.
  The bomber levelled off at 7,500 feet and the camera planes got into
  position.  Al Wilson started the spin over what is now Whiteman Airpark
  in Pacoima.  The Sikorsky pulled up and fell off on one wing.  Wilson
  recovered from his firsty try, regianed control and fell off into another
  spin.  He seemed to recover again, as he was getting the feel of the
  controls in the spin, but then the big airplane went down in a tight
  spin.  Frank Tomick saw the fabric tear away from the leading edge of the
  left wing, and then pieces of cowling from the left engine began to break
  away.  Al Wilson's head ducked below the cockpit as he struggled with the
  controls.  Tomick saw him leave the cockpit and open his parachute.  The
  three cameramen followed the spinning bomber as Hughes and the three
  pilots waited anxiously for the second parachute.  But Jones remained
  inside and the cameras continuted to follow the spinning Sikorsky. [186]
          Tomick strained the DeHaviland camera plane as he tried to keep
  up with the doomed bomber.  Flying a camera ship was more than just
  following another airplane.  The camera pilot had to understand camera
  angles and maintain a course broadside to the subject in order to give
  the cameraman a clear field of view that would exclude the wing tips,
  tail and any other part of the camera plane itself.
          The Sikorsky continued on down until it crashed in an orange
  grove near the intersection of Terra Bella and Haddon streets in Pacoima.
  The engines penetrated the ground for several feet and the airplane was
  completely demolished.  Phil Jones was still inside the wreckage with his
  unopened parachute strapped to his lifeless body.
          Al Wilson came down a half mile away at Pierce and Bradley
  streets, and was grief stricken when informed that Phil Jones never
  jumped.  Wilson said that when the airplane began to break up, he yelled
  twice to Jones through the passageway that led to the cabin. [187]
  Whether or not Jones heard the commands, or if he had been thrown around
  the cabin by the spin and knocked unconscious, or if he heard Al Wilson
  and was pinned inside by the centrifugal force of the spin, no one will
  ever know.
          Al Wilson received a lot of unfair criticism from people who were
  not involved in the incident.  Some reports say that he jumped after the
  first turn of the spin.   But according to Frank Tomick, who was closest
  to the bomber at the time Wilson jumped, this is not true.
          The District Attorney's office investigated the incident for
  possible negligent homicide charges, but they found no evidence for any
  neglect.  Al Wilson's license was revoked for a while, but it was soon
  restored.  The three pilots who flew with Wilson in this incident, Frank
  Tomick, Frank Clarke and Roy Wilson, all agreed that Al Wilson should not
  be blamed for the death of Phil Jones, and that he had taken the only
  course of action he could under the circumstances. [188]
          Only the first scenes of the bomber at the beginning of its spin
  were used in the completed picture.  Al Wilson's parachute apppeared in
  all of the others.
          The pioneer motion picture stunt pilot grieved over the death of
  Phil Jones, and the unfair criticism he received from some of his peers
  in the Southern California aviation community.  Al Wilson gave up stunt
  flying as a result of this accident, except for an occasional appearance
  in his Curtiss Pusher, and went to work as an airline pilot for Maddux
  Air Lines....  [pp.91-93]


          ...The worst tragedy ever to hit the motion picture industry took
  place in the air on January 2, 1930.  The Fox Film Corporation was making
  the final scenes for "Such Men Are Dangerous."  The picture was not an
  aviation film, but the story was based on the death of Capt. Alfred
  Lowenstein, a Belgian millionaire who disappeared from his airplane over
  the English Channel in 1928.
          The scene plan called for three airplanes, one with a parachute
  jumper and two with cameras, to take off from Clover Field and rendezvous
  three miles at sea off Point San Vicente.  At that point the camera
  planes would spread apart while the plane with the jumper flew between
  them.  when the jumper bailed out, the cameras would record the jump and
  descend from different angles.  A speed boat cruised in the sea below,
  with another camera aboard to record the jump from sea level, and to pick
  up the jumper after he descended into the water.
          The three airplanes took off just before 4:00 p.m. as the winter
  sun was approaching the horizon.  In the lead was a Lockheed high-wing
  monoplane painted bright orange to contrast with the blue sky and sea in
  order to show up clearly on the black and white film.  In addition to
  pilot Roscoe Turner, the Lockheed carried Jacob Tribdwasser, the
  parachute jumper, Fred White, a representative from the parachute
  company, and Fred Osborne.  The other two planes were identical Stinson
  "Detroiters," leased from Tanner Air Tours, and flown by Ross Cooke and
  Halleck Rouse.   Kenneth Hawks, who was acting as director and was
  brother of Howard Hawks and husband of actress Mary Astor, flew in one
  plane.  Max Gold, the assistant director on the film, rode in the other
  Stinson.  Cameraman George Eastman, assistant cameraman Ben Frankel, and
  prop man Tom Harris, rode in one of the Stinsons, while the other
  cameraman, Conrad Wells, his assistant Otto Jordan, and prop man Harry
  Johannes rode in the other Tanner airplane.  Newspaper accounts don't say
  which group rode with which pilot, but each camera plane carried five
  men, and the doors were removed to give the cameramen more freedom of
          When they reached the rendezvous point, Turner, in the faster
  airplane, was ahead while the two camera planes, cruising one above the
  other, headed directly into the brilliant sun.  Hoot Gibson, the cowboy
  star and a flyer in his own right, had planned to fly with Turner to
  watch the stunt, but at the last minute a representative of the parachute
  company decided to ride with the jumper.  The cowboy actor drove to the
  coast to watch the action from his car.  Gibson, the men in the speed
  boat, and the people who had gathered along the shore to watch, saw the
  two camera planes point their noes down slightly, and then something
          Perhaps the sun affected the vision of one or both of the pilots.
  The higher airplane banked slightly to the right, and the one below
  suddenly swerved upward and to the left.  They were about 3,000 feet
  high when their wing tips touched, drew apart and then touched again.
  When the second contact was made, one plane pivoted on its wing tip and
  collided with the other, almost nose to nose.  A burst of flame suddenly
  consumed both Stinsons as two twisting bodies fell or jumped from the
  fireball.  Ten men were already dead as the two burning airplanes struck
  the water and sank in forty fathoms of the sea.
          Roscoe Turner was so overcome with grief that he was barely able
  to land at Clover Field, and had to be helped from his airplane.  He had
  seen three close friends- Kenneth Hawks, Ross Cooke and Hal Rouse- plunge
  to their deaths along with seven other men.  That same morning, Turner
  and Cooke flew two airplanes over the route in a dry run with Howard
  Hawks, the director, who was aboard Turner's Lockheed.  Just before
  takeoff time that afternoon, Howard Hawks received a call from the studio
  and had to return to the Fox headquarters on Sunset Boulevard.  His
  brother, Kenneth, took his place as director.  Divers spent several days
  searching for the bodies.... [193]  [pp.94-95]


          ...The plot for "Dawn Patrol" came from the John Monk Saunders
  story, "The Flight Commander."...
          Roy Wilson, Ira Reed, Garland Lincoln and Roscoe Turner also
  worked in the picture, but Leo Nomis and Frank Tomick did most of the
  flying....  [p.100]


          ...While the final scenes of "Dawn Patrol" were being edited,
  Howard Hughes released the sound version of "Hell's Angels"  At this time
  Hollywood, California, was the glamourous center of the giant motion
  picture industry, and one of the cleanest and most charming of small
  cities.  Movie stars ranked a little lower than celestial beings and
  fully lived their parts as regal creatures with an image of magnificent
  splendor.  One could join the well-groomed strollers along Hollywood
  Boulevard any evening and recognize familiar faces that had been seen
  many time on the screen in supporting or character roles.  Regardless of
  one's level of sophistication, it was always a thrill to see a major star
  pass in a luxurious automobile, enter a theater, or leave the lobby of
  the rambling Hollywood Hotel.  If you had been there on the particular
  night of May 27, 1930, you would have seen Hollywood in all its glory
  during the most spectacular motion picture premier ever to take place
  anywhere in the world....
          As the crowd thickened and the area became choked with
  automobiles, the curious spectators turned their faces upward to behold a
  sight that came straight from the First World War.  A tight formation of
  low-flying, open-cockpit biplanes with ominouse Maltese crosses on their
  wings droned along the boulevard....
          It was well after 10 p.m. before all the seats were filled and
  "Hell's Angels" was presented to the public.  The critics did not
  compliment the dramatic portion of the film, but everyone agreed that the
  air scenes were without equal and worthy of all Hollywood superlatives.
  They remain as the classic of airplane scenes, and despite the technical
  errors of the picture, the flying scenes of "Hell's Angels" have yet to
  be surpassed.
          The story contrasts two American brothers, played by Ben Lyon and
  James Hall, who are attending Oxford.  On a pre-war vacation trip to
  Munich with a German fellow student, Ben Lyon as the irresponsible
  brother finds himself challenged to a duel with a German nobleman over
  the affections of the latter's wife.  Lyon immediately departs for
  England, leaving the serious-minded brother, James Hall, to uphold the
  family honor by facing the duel in which he is slightly wounded in the
          When all three students are back at Oxford, the German boy
  receives a notice from his War Department, and he reluctantly returns to
  Germany for mobilization with his regiment.  The brothers join the Royal
  Flying Corps, though Ben Lyon is opposed to the idea.  After winning
  their wings Ben Lyon is drawn into a one-night love affair by his
  brother's fun-loving girlfriend, Jean Harlow.  The unsuspecting James
  Hall rebuffs his brother's warning that beautiful Jean may not be as
  innocent as he imagines her to be.
          The German student shows up in the crew of a Zeppelin that is
  bombing London.  Lowered in an observation car below the clowds to direct
  the bombing, and torn between duty and his love of England, he causes the
  bombs to be dropped into a lake.  In an effort to gain altitude after
  being pursued by British planes, the Zeppelin commander orders all
  expendable equipment to be thrown overboard.  When British planes
  continued to gain on the airship, and the commander is informed that the
  reeling in of the observation car will require ten more minutes, he cuts
  the cable.  Finally, several members of the crew volunteer to jump
  overboard to lighten the load of the fleeing Zeppelin.  The attacking
  planes are unable to down the dirigible, but with jammed machine guns one
  pilot climbs above and dives his airplane into the ship, seting it afire.
          The brothers are assigned to combat duty in France and Ben Lyon
  is accused of cowardice by his squadron mates.  When volunteers are
  requested to fly a captured German bomber deep in the enemy lines as the
  only way to bomb an important ammunition dump, Ben Lyon steps forward in
  an effort to prove his courage.  He is joined by his brother and they are
  given leave until takeoff time at dawn.  While visiting the local
  bistros, they meet canteen worker Jean Harlow who reveals her true
  character in a drunken stupor with her current lover, an artillery
          Flying dominates almost the entire second half of the picture as
  the brothers take off in the captured German bomber.  After they
  successfully bomb the ammunition dump, a squadron of German fighter
  planes tries to shoot them down as they flee for the Allied lines.  A
  squadron of British fighters comes to the rescue and a gigantic dog fight
  develops.  But before they reach the lines the German leader, supposedly
  von Richthofen, brings them down.  Questioned by a German general who
  turns out to be the officer who challenged Ben Lyon to the pre-war duel
  in Munich, the brothers refuse to reveal plans for the imminent Allied
  offensive.  Faced with execution by a firing squad as spies, Ben Lyon
  weakens when they are returned to their prison cell and is ready to talk.
  As the stronger brother, James Hall persuades Ben Lyon to let him do the
  talking.  James Hall tells the general he will talk only on the condition
  that he is allowed to shoot his companion, whom he supposedly hates, to
  prevent andy post-war knowledge of Hall's cooperation with the enemy.
  With a Luger and one bullet, Hall is returned to the cell.  When Ben Lyon
  can't be persuaded to remain silent, Hall shoots his brother to keep the
  battle plans secret.  As James Hall is then executed by a firing squad,
  the British troops go over the top and rout the enemy as "The End" is
  superimposed over the battlefield scene.
          The German government regarded "Hell's Angels" as an offense to
  the nation and lodged protests through its embassies when the film was
  released in Europe.... [203]  [pp.103-106]


          ...Frank Clarke, Roy Wilson and Frank Tomick became well known in
  the motion picture capital because of their minor acting roles in "Hell's
  Angels."  They could occasionally be seen among the motion picture people
  who traditionally strolled, or cruised their automobiles along Hollywood
  Boulevard in the evenings.  Tave Wilson recalls a minor incident of that
  time as it was related to him by his brother, Roy:

                   "Roy, Tomick and Clarke were riding along Hollywood
      Boulevard one night with Roscoe Turner in this old Packard touring car
      he had.  Turner had on that trick uniform we used to call his circus
      uniform.  He had wings on his sleeves, wings on his pockets, and wings on
      his collar.  The car had wings on the radiator cap, wings on the hub
      caps, and wings on the doors.  They were stopped at Hollywood and Vine by
      a new policeman when they ran a red light or something, and the regular
      officer wasn't there or he would have known them.  But this new man put
      his foot on the running board to write a ticket, and he looked at the
      wings all over the place.  He looked at Turner and said, 'What are all
      these hawk wings for?'  Turner said in his soft southern drawl- he was
      from Georgia or South Carolina, some where down there- 'We're aviators,
      sir.'  Clarke was sitting in the back seat and he said, 'Oh no!', kidding
      Turner, 'He's the aviator.  We're just pilots.'  From that day on we
      called him Hawk Wings Turner.  We were always kidding each other.  But
      Turner was a cracker jack pilot.  When he was flying that Sikorsky in
      'Hell's Angels,' and they were coming at him from all sides, they didn't
      scare him one bit.  He just held her in there and didn't budge one
      inch."... [206]  [p.108]


          ...Tave Wilson recalls some of the events that took place at the
  Wilson Airport during the 1930s:

                   ..."There were always cameramen who wanted to be aerial
      cameramen because it paid more.  We used to pull a trick on new cameramen
      that we called 'split shots.'  ...That was when Frank Clarke and Roy
      [Wilson] would fly wing to wing and come right to my camera ship head
      on.  About the time you thought they'd come through the ship, they's
      split.  One would go over the top and one underneath.  That poor
      cameraman in the back was looking through his finder and all he could
      see was propeller hubs.  It was too late to jump and he ducked in the
      cockpit waiting for the crash.  After we landed at the location, this
      new cameraman jumped out and said he would never fly again.
                    ...Sometimes they'd do it from the side, the same trick.
      Roy and Clarke pulled that on Roscoe Turner in his Sikorsky when he first
      came out here.  He swore that one of them came over and then in between
      the wing and the stabilizer."... [217]  [p.115]


          ...[In 1931] Using leftover scenes from "Hell's Angels," Hughes
  made two more aviation movies, using Metropolitan Airport as a base of
  operations.  "Cock Of The Air" and "Sky Devils" were both comedies and
  required a few additional air scenes, but most of the air action for both
  pictures came from scenes left over from "Hell's Angels."  Hughes
  recovered some of his investment by selling these excess "Hell's Angels"
  scenes to other studios, where they appeared in at least six subsequent
          "Sky Devils" contained... the comedy flight-training sequence
  originally made at March Field for "Hell's Angels"...  The "Hell's Angels
  scenes appear when they accidentally bomb an enemy ammunition dump, and
  German fighter planes try to bring them down....  [pp.116-118]


         ...Monogram used many of the leftover "Hell's Angels" scenes in
  the low-budget feature, "A Crimson Romance," which starred Ben Lyon.
  Several new scenes that showed the actors in and around airplanes were
  shot at the Wilson Airport....  [p.138]


      Author's footnotes:

      [162]  Personal interview with Frank Tomick, 1965.
      [163]  Personal interview with Frank Tomick, 1965.
      [164]  Hollywood Daily Citizen, Mar. 24, 1928.
      [165]  Interview with Jimmy Barton conducted by James Dunavent.
      [179]  Personal interview with Frank Tomick, 1965, and interview with
             Jimmy Barton conducted by James Dunavent.
      [180]  Personal interview with Frank Tomick, 1965.
      [181]  Interview with Jimmy Barton conducted by James Dunavent.
      [182]  Interview with Jimmy Barton conducted by James Dunavent.
      [183]  Interview with Jimmy Barton conducted by James Dunavent.
      [184]  Personal interview with Frank Tomick, 1965, and Tave Wilson,
      [185]  Personal interview with Frank Tomick, 1965.
      [186]  Personal interview with Frank Tomick, 1965.
      [187]  Los Angeles Examiner Mar. 23, 1929.  Los Angeles Times,
             Mar. 23, 1929.
      [188]  Personal interview with Frank Tomick, 1965, and Tave Wilson,
      [193]  Los Angeles Examiner Jan. 3 & 4, 1930.  Los Angeles Times,
             Jan. 3 & 4, 1930.
      [203]  New York Times Nov. 21, 1930 and Sep. 6, 1931.
      [206]  Personal interview with Tave Wilson, 1976.
      [217]  Personal interview with Tave Wilson, 1976.

               HOLLYWOOD'S CLASSIC AVIATION MOVIES. Missoula, Montana:
               Pictorial Histories Publishing Company, 1987.

      Data transcription by:  Milton Sandy, Jr. May 4, 1993.

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