Photographer's Note

Taken during Scotland's National Airshow at the Museum of Flight, East Fortune two days ago, this is part of the display of the "Breitling Wingwalkers".

"Wingwalking" dates back to the days when young flying aces returned from the First World War, addicted to the thrill of flying, purchased cheap surplus aircraft and would then thrill the crowds with aerial antics and sell joy rides to members of the public. To entertain the crowds further, the pilots persuaded their girlfriends and engineers to walk out along the linen clad wings of their biplanes - this was the start of wingwalking and flying circus entertainment!

The Breitling Wingwalkers recreate the fearless glamour of those pioneering years. The force of the wind against the wingwalkers means they experience forces between +4g and -2g.

The aeroplanes are 1940s Boeing Stearman biplanes which fly at between 80 and 150 m.p.h. They have been fitted with extra ailerons and a larger engine - a 450 h.p. Pratt and Witney radial engine - as well as a 10 foot diameter propeller, all of which means they are very powerful and also amazingly manoeuvrable.

Today, however, although these girls have to be very fit and strong to sustain the forces of gravity and airspeed while they perform their acrobatics, they are equipped with safety harnesses!

You can see a larger version of this photograph on "beta" TE here.

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Additional Photos by John Cannon (tyro) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1811 W: 411 N: 6535] (26470)
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