This film is part of Free

Aeroplanes - Unidentified

Magnificent men - or perhaps women - in their flying machines in this beautifully tinted film fragment

Non-Fiction 1916 Silent


So much of our early film heritage is lost that even fragments are treasured dearly. This short sequence of two planes - a biplane filmed in the air from another unseen aircraft, and a monoplane looping then coming into land - is typically enigmatic. The film has been dated from indications on the film stock, but only the most eagle-eyed aviation historian might be able to identify the model of the planes.

The surviving piece of film from which these images have been scanned is just 28 feet long, and is not all from the same manufacturer. 21 blank frames separate the two orange and blue scenes, and we can't even be sure that they belonged to the same original work and weren't cobbled together from two different films by a later collector. Among the many mysteries of this film are who flew the planes and who cranked the camera in the blustering winds hundreds of feet in the air.