Live Footage of Accident from 1910

I’m travelling so just a quicky today. This silent film, 1910 Aeroplane Flight and Wreck shows M. Cody piloting an aeroplane that almost certainly shouldn’t be able to fly. It was filmed on 23 June of 1910, although it’s not known who by. The clip is particularly interesting because the camera follows the plane, which was not common at the time. The short documentary was produced by the Biograph Company. This makes M. Cody one of the first stunt pilots to appear on film.

A review from IMDb:

It’s really hard to rate many of the early films, as they were mostly very short films featuring practically no story. By 1910, when this film was made, this had changed a bit–though the bulk of films still were only a few minutes long. Sure, there were some exceptions such as Georges Méliès’ feature-length “Voyage dans le Lune” (1902) which was 14 minutes long and “The Great Train Robbery” (1903) which was 12 minutes long. But the bulk of the films people went to see were a lot like the 4 minute long “Aeroplane Flight and Wreck”. Essentially, most films still hadn’t changed that much since the early Lumière Brothers films other than they’d gotten a bit longer (from 90 seconds to 240 seconds) and the camera was no longer stationary during the entire film.

Here in this film, something occurs that the Lumières could not have done–the camera follows (as best it can) a plane taking off and soon crashing. Audiences of the day must have been astounded to watch an early airplane (apparently a Curtis biplane) spectacularly crash–especially because in 1910 few people had still actually seen an airplane. By today’s standards, the crash is a major anti-climax, as the plane is only going perhaps 20 miles and hour when it thuds unexpectedly to the earth from a height of perhaps 10 or 20 feet! I would assume the crash was not planned and just occurred by chance. Considering the pilot looked okay afterwords, it seems this was actually a very good thing— giving the audiences a thrill.

While most modern audiences probably won’t be particularly amazed by the film, it is great for film buffs and people who would like to see perhaps the earliest footage of a plane in flight (the 1903 Wright Brothers flight was only captures by a camera–not a moving picture camera and very few additional flights actually occurred between 1903 and 1910).

I’ll tell you straight, just looking at the work needed to get it into the air makes me glad I live in a world with modern aviation.

Wishing all the best for all of us in 2014!

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