Those magnificent men and their flying machines

Discussion in 'Everything else' started by Bengt F, Mar 30, 2006.

  1. Bengt F

    Bengt F Active Member

    Claude Grahame-White In Black & White


    Yesterday I bought a little collection of books on aviation and aircraft, and in one of them I found these two photographs, related in some way to your scratch build.

    The book´s title is "The Story of Aircraft - Seven Decades of Powered Flight" by David Charles, published in 1974 by Octopus Books Ltd., and the pictures are taken from pp 28-29.

    The picture texts describe what we see:
    1. "Daring young ladies were prepared to risk their lives in the wonderful flying machine. Claude Grahame-White and passenger provide a charming picture of the pioneering days."

    2. "The first International Air Race at Hendon in 1913 was won by Claude Grahame-White. He is seen here flying across the winning line."



  2. Ashrunner

    Ashrunner Member


    These photos are definitely interesting. The bottom one of the International Air Race is especially interesting to me. One of my favorite movies is "Those Magnificent Men in their Flying Machine." The maintenance sheds and the watch tower on the left look almost exactly like the set of the movie. This photo must have been the inspiration for the set builders.

    Thanks for sharing the photos with us.

  3. Gil

    Gil Active Member

    That would make the sewage pond off to the left behind the tower...,

  4. Bengt F

    Bengt F Active Member

    Those Magnificent Men In Their Flying Machines

    Hey Ashrunner,

    I´m glad you liked the photos. I have very fond memories of that movie about the frantic London-Paris air race, too. I saw it at least four times in the movie theatres when it was released here in Sweden in the mid-60s together with my father, who also was very interested in aviation.
    Btw, he had served with the Swedish air force during WW II and sometimes met British fighter pilots who sometimes landed in Sweden with their Lancaster bombers, on their way back from operations in Norway or Finland. He was sometimes invited to sit in the gunner´s seat and I have photos of him in front of a bomber with German machine gun holes in it.

    I´ve tried to get hold of a DVD copy of that movie but I haven´t had any luck yet. I would very much like to see it again - there were so many fine aeroplanes in it; an A V Roe I (a replica made especially for this movie), a Santos-Dumont 'Demoiselle', a Levasseur 'Antoinette' a Blériot XI, a Farman, a Curtiss Flyer... and the hilarious British actor Terry-Thomas, with his moustache and 'stiff upper lip' - a 'jolly good chap'! Not forgetting the stout German actor Gert Fröbe, with his pointed Preussian helmet and monocle, humming an oompah-oompah march as he went out to 'board' his plane. And of course, the amorous Frenchman, who found a pretty girl in every hay stack.. Great movie!

    Here´s some notes abut the movie:

    It would be fun to watch it again...
    Bengt:rofl: :rofl: :rofl:
  5. Bengt F

    Bengt F Active Member

    Sewage Pond Landing


    Yeah, that was a somewhat unplanned 'forced landing' by Terry-Thomas, if I remember correctly? He must have said "Blast!" or someting to that effect, in a moment of controlled British despair . . .

  6. Bowdenja

    Bowdenja Active Member

    Don't forget the Dashing Tony Curtis! I loved the movie too! Oh wait....... maybe I'm thinking of the move about the cars instead! I love that one too! "Those Magnificent Men in their Driving Machines."
  7. I recall a book documenting the creation and flying of the "Magnificent Men" replicas. Remember back in 1965 building full-scale flying reproductions of vintage aircraft was quite a novelty. It was quite an engineering challenge to make these replicas reliable enough for film shooting. Over 40 years later these movie props are now historic aircraft in their own right (like the T-6 "Tora! Tora! Tora!" Texans), and a couple still fly in the Shuttleworth Collection.


    The American "Phoenix Flyer" was actually a Bristol Boxkite, not a Wright or Curtiss aircraft.

    Despite the more powerful engine, the Santos-Dumont "Demoiselle" replica couldn't get off the ground. The technical crew realized that Santos-Dumont's size and weight were the critical factors, so they used a small female pilot to successfully fly the Demoiselle.

    The Irish pilot who flew the "backward" Santos-Dumont "14 Bis" in the opposite direction was a tongue-in-cheek "tribute" to the real Douglas "Wrong Way" Corrigan.

    When filming one scene when the German pilot's plane loses its tail and goes out of control around the field, one of the ground crew fell right in front of the plane. Serious injury (or worse) was narrowly averted when the plane suddenly lifted off and "hopped" right over him! Sadly, this remarkable scene had to be scrapped when it was discovered that a modern truck was caught on film. Naturally the extra did NOT repeat his performance on the reshoot...

    One plane design was used twice -- the second was disguised with painted panels stretched between the struts for the Japanese pilot. This addition made the plane very difficult to fly, so you only saw it in the air briefly as it arrived at the aerodrome. (It was sabotaged by the nefarious Terry-Thomas and crashed on takeoff.)

    Pyro produced a line of plastic and tissue paper kits based on the movie planes. They were reissued a couple of times, but all are rare collector items, especially the first run with the movie title on the box art. But at the 2004 IPMS/USA Nationals somebody superdetailed these planes (including scale turnbuckles!) and made a Magnificent Men diorama of the Channel crossing. It won a Popular Best of Show award and two Best Dioramas:

    Incredible work!
  8. Bengt F

    Bengt F Active Member

    The Great Race Featuring Tony Curtis

    Hi John,

    I think this is the movie you are referring to: "The Great Race" by Blake Edwards.

    Yeah, that was a great one, too - released in the same year (1965), also starring Jack Lemmon and Peter 'Columbo' Falk.

    They don´t make movies today like they did in the 60s . . .
    Great productions - some prints of "The Magnificent Men..." were even released in 70mm with 6-channel audio. Long before computers.

    Bengt :rofl:
  9. Bengt F

    Bengt F Active Member


    Thank you for those very comprehensive and interesting notes!
    I remember the handsome dark 'cowboy' American (Stuart Whitman) and the Japanese (Yujiro Ishihara) aviators now. So that was a Boxkite - I always thought it was a Curtiss Flyer.

    Re. the Santos-Dumont 'Demoiselle'; a quote from the book "The Story of Aircraft - Seven Decades of Powered Flight" by David Charles (Octopus Books Ltd, 1974), which I bought yesterday: "Perhaps one of the earliest designs intended for the homebuilder was that of the little Demoiselle, built by Santos-Dumont. He had overlooked the fact that while it could lift a man of his small stature into the air, it was unable to leave the ground carrying more normal sized constructors."
    Here´s some more info on the Demoiselle, provided by Chip Fyn on the FG site:

    The pictures of the airplane models made by Dr. Raleigh Williams are amazing! A remarkable diorama, indeed! The detailing is simply wonderful -
    I can recall the British aviator (James Fox) in the green woolen cap when I see him again. And the little Frenchman (Jean-Pierre Cassel) who flew wearing only his goggles (and his regular clothes of course, when he was flying - I assume he had to remove them in the hay stack...)

    Btw, if anyone is interested in building one of these planes in card, there are a couple of them on FG; e. g. the beautiful Léon Levasseur 'Antoinette', Louis Blériot´s type XI cross-channel plane, The Wright Model B, and the Brazilian Alberto Santos-Dumont´s 'Demoiselle' or '14 Bis', for example. Just make your pick here, under "Early Flying Machines"! The Wright Glider is free, by the way:

    Thanks again, David!
    Do you think you could find the title of that book on the flying replicas? That would be very interesting reading.

    I just have to get that movie on DVD now - forty years later . . .
    Bengt :smile:
  10. Bengt F

    Bengt F Active Member

  11. Bengt F

    Bengt F Active Member

    "They don´t make movies today like they did in the 60s . . ."

    I might just have to take that statement back. I´m presently watching "Space Cowboys" on DVD (bought it yesterday for peanuts money) with Clint Eastwood (director & producer) and his "Ripe Stuff" team of old X-plane test pilots doing a space shuttle rescue operation on a Russian satellite (with nukes) gone hay-wire. This is quite a good one - definately a runner-up to "The Right Stuff"!

    Back to the tube for some more,

    PS. (edited in: Well, the end was a little bit predictable - Hollywood heroes save the world again - but still a good and thrilling movie with a fair amount of realism, particularly in the space shuttle scenes. A lot better than "Armageddon" with Bruce Willis.)
  12. Bengt, I think the book was: "Building Aeroplanes for 'Those Magnificent Men' ", by Allen H. Wheeler. It was published in 1965, library call number 629.1709 W562. It's long out of print, but a fascinating read for anyone interested in how these vintage airplanes performed.

    One of the points the author makes in his book was that flying some of these aircraft was VERY risky, since using wing warping and other archaic features had become a "lost art". Keeping all the planes in the air at one time as the cameras filmed the beginning of the Channel crossing was a remarkable feat -- there was NO splicing or superimposed images in that scene!

    By the way, "Those Magnificent Men" also spawned a "semi-sequel", "Those Daring Young Men in Their Jaunty Jalopies" (aka "Monte Carlo or Bust") in 1969.

    Blake Edward's "The Great Race" was released in 1965, the same year as "Magnificent Men". It was VERY loosely inspired by an actual 1908 New York to Paris automobile race.
  13. Ashrunner

    Ashrunner Member

    I asked Rick to move this part of the Scratchbuilt thread to here. Seems a more appropriate place for it. 8v)

    Bengt, thanks for the link on the early aircraft. Really great info.

    As for Space Cowboys...definitely got its good points, but like you said, the ending is predictable. There were a bunch of pretty good aviation films made in the 30s. There was one with the pretty boy of the day, don't remember his name, playing a Navy doctor and working on developing pressure suits. I really like that movie with all the different aircraft in it.

    For me, any aviation film is great. It is about the only chance I will get of being able to watch the early aircraft in action, even if they are models, or in the case of the recently released DVD of King Kong, computer generated. 8v)
  14. Gentlemen, as I was reading through this thread I thought I'd mention an attraction that I'm fortunate to live near to, and have visited on a number of occasions. The Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome, located in Rhinebeck, New York features a large collection of early aircraft - some are original (like the Bleriot 1911, Curtis Jenny, Morane Saulnier A-1 1917, etc) and some are exact reproductions (Fokker DR1's, DV11, EIII, Albatross, Nieuports, Sopwiths, etc etc). Most of them are in flying condition and a number of them participate in their weekend airshows. One of the days is an early flight show, and the other is a WWI show. I can't remember which is which, but I've seen both. I haven't been to the aerodrome in probably 30 years, but I remember that at that time their museum featured a number of the airplanes from "Those Magnificent Men...". You can even get an open cockpit biplane ride! The ride used to be in a 1 passenger Stearman, but now they use a multi passenger 1929 New Standard biplane.The website is loaded with info - each aircraft (and vehicle) in their extensive collection is profiled, and there are some videos of a few of their planes in flight. If you ever find yourself in the Mid-Hudson Valley region of New York State, it's well worth the trip to the aerodrome.
  15. Bengt F

    Bengt F Active Member

    Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome

    Dear Don,

    Yes, it seems that Rhinebeck has a very fine collection of vintage aircraft. I have frequently visited their excellent web site in search for information and photos for model builds.
    I sure wish I could go there someday - they´ve got a rare Fokker D VIII that I´m dying to see . . .
    They also have some very nice "Action footage" video clips (requires QuickTime)!

    best regards,
    Bengt :cool:

    PS. And many thanks to our moderator Ashrunner for preparing this as new a separate thread for us Magnificent Men (and Women)!
  16. shrike

    shrike Guest

    Dive Bomber WB 1941 Errol Flynn and Fred Mac Murray Directed by Michael Curtiz

    Personally I've always been fond of Captains of the Clouds....but part of that could just be Brenda Marshall......

    Try to find a copy of When Hollywood Ruled the Skies by Bruce W Oriss (Aero Associates ISBN 0-961-13088-0-X) It has a listing with cast, synopsis and notes of every WWII-ish aviation movie made from 1938-1980
  17. EricGoedkoop

    EricGoedkoop Member

    Actually, that D.VIII belonged to pilot Brian Coughlin who flew it for a few years in the Old Rhinebeck airshows. It has since been sold to Kermit Weeks and is in his Fantasy of Flight museum in Florida. Kermit and his crew brought it up to Dayton, Ohio last year for the Dawn Patrol Rendezvous. It didn't fly (due to an FAA regulation), but the boys ran up its 160 hp Gnome near the fenceline several times, which was a treat!
  18. Bengt F

    Bengt F Active Member

    Fokker E. V/ D. VIII in Kermit Weeks´Fantasy of Flight Museum, in Florida


    Oh, so that´s how it is! Interesting - thanks for bringing this to my attention. I don´t think there are too many flying D.VIIIs around these days? Perhaps a few in the States or in Holland.
    I hope to be able to visit the US and Florida some day (and perhaps pay a visit to my good friend Rob in Pensacola) - and if ever this becomes a reality, I won´t miss Kermit Weeks´museum, with a stop at Old Rhinebeck on the way down. Their airshows will be a must, if the timing is right!
    This aeroplane, by the way, must be the same one of which I posted two pictures on the (now somewhat lengthy) "New Fokker E-III (okay, several)" -thread.
    I know that Mr. Ron Arganbright, of California, has also built a beautiful (Experimental) replica of this aeroplane type. The magnificent cockpit in this plane can be seen on the third picture from the top on the thread mentioned above.
    Since my early teens, this has been my absolute #1 favourite aeroplane. It´s a simple, sleek, stylish and very beautiful design in my opinion.
    I´m (slowly and carefully) building an up-scaled card model of this type at the moment, with Polish colours and insignia.

    Just the other day, I bought myself my very first RC 'trainer', to hopefully aquire the necessary skills to fly - but when I feel confident enough,
    I would very much like to build a detailed Fokker D.VIII in 1:6th or 1:4th scale, with an electrical motor.
    Plans and dreams - but that´s another story, which belongs in another forum.

    Did you know that the age of boys often can be determined by the size of their toys ? . .

    best regards,
  19. 46rob

    46rob Member

  20. Bengt F

    Bengt F Active Member

    Those Magnificent Aeroplanes

    Hi Rob,

    You keep your hawk eyes wide open, it seems! "Good show, old boy!" is probably what Terry-Thomas would have said in my stead.

    I´ve sent them a mail, inquiring about those card models - let´s see what happens!


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