World Tour Revisited: Charlie’s loop-the-loop in Biarritz, Aug. 1931

Boston Globe, September 1st, 1931. Henri Cochet was a French tennis champion.

May Reeves describes what became a near-death experience for Charlie:

We went to an airshow with several friends. Detroyat performed his famous loops and offered Chaplin a short acrobatic flight. Since several young women had already flown with the intrepid aviator, any hesitation on Charlie’s part would have been misinterpreted as cowardice. But when the plane flew over us upside down, I was a little afraid, and when Detroyat returned with his passenger, they both looked pale as a shroud. “We narrowly missed having an accident,” Detroyat confessed. “The straps which held me broke while we were flying upside down. If I had not grabbed the control stick at the last moment…”1*

This wasn’t Charlie’s first time loop-the-looping. When he took his first flight around 1919, the trip included, among other harrowing stunts, a loop-the-loop. Before the flight, his main worry was about the padded clothing required for the journey which he considered indicative of a likelihood to crash. He survived but did not wish to repeat the experience.

Charlie avoided flying most of his life. In 1940 he made his first transcontinental flight, from Los Angeles to New York, for the premiere of The Great Dictator.  He disliked the trip so much that he returned to California by train and refused to fly again until the 1950s. 

Charlie with Emery Rogers,  vice president of the Syd Chaplin Aircraft Corporation, c.1919. 

1 The Intimate Charlie Chaplin by May Reeves
*This brings to mind the airplane scene with Charlie and Reginald Gardiner in The Great Dictator.

Read more in my World Tour (1931-32) Revisited series here.

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