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October 3, 2023

Watch Wing Walker Gladys Ingle Changing a Wheel in Mid-Air, 1926

In 1926, Gladys Ingle was filmed changing planes in mid-air to replace a lost wheel on Art Goebel’s aircraft (Jan 1926). The aircraft are Curtiss JN-4 biplanes. Ingle is seen with a tire strapped to her back going up on Bon McDougall’s airplane to switch to Art Goebel’s airplane to install a tire.

Gladys Ingle (March 28, 1899 – October 27, 1981) was an American pilot, a wing walker and a member of the aerial stunt team the 13 Black Cats. She was the fourth woman to earn a pilot license. In 1921, she and her sister Ann both performed as members of the C.P.O. Aerial Circus, parachuting out of balloons. In 1922, she performed her first stunt involving an airplane when she and her sister performed an airplane parachute race jumping from separate planes.

Gladys Ingle became the only female member of the 13 Black Cats. She performed in aerial stunts during the 1920s and 1930s. She was renowned for her stunts and wing walking. Some of her stunts included moving from plane to plane in mid-air, and flying on the wing of a plane while it passed under a bridge. One of Ingle’s stunts involved replacing a wheel in mid-air. A wheel would conveniently fall off an airplane. Ingle would strap a spare wheel on her back and rendezvous with the “stricken” plane. In mid-air, she would climb to the top of the upper wing of the second plane and transfer to the bottom wing of the plane in distress. She would then climb down to the landing gear and install the wheel. This was filmed on at least one occasion.

Gladys Ingle is preparing to move from Bon MacDougall’s Jenny to Art Goebel’s aircraft mid-air, January 1926.

In another stunt, she would shoot arrows at targets while wing walking. When asked if she ever got scared, she said, “Nothing to it at all, nothing to it.” She claimed to have been involved in several forced landings and plane crashes. One of her most daring stunts was to stand on the wing of an aircraft while it looped the loop.

In 1928, The San Bernardino County Sun reported that Ingle doubled for movie stars and appeared in films. In her career, she successfully transferred from the wing of one aircraft to the wing of another in mid-air more than 300 times.


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