Pilot Lowell Bayles dies in crash of the GEE BEE race plane during an attempt on the world landplane speed record.
Detroit Michigan USA Date:1931, December 5 Duration:2 min 43 sec Sound:NO SOUND
Crash of Gee Bee Z Super Sportster airplane at the Wayne County airport in Detroit, Michigan, on Dec. 5th 1931, during attempt to break the world landplane speed record. Ground crew and one of the Granville brothers, who built the airplane, roll the Gee Bee out of a hangar. The aircraft displays tail number NR 77Y and has large numeral 4 painted on fuselage. City of Springfield is painted on front of the airplane. Pilot, Lowell Bayles, climbs into the cockpit and starts the engine. Crew chief places canopy over the pilot's cockpit. The aircraft takes off with modest rate of climb and makes slow banking turn to the left. Camera next shows the Gee Bee descending rapidly as Bayles dives the race plane at high speed into the officially timed sea level course. Camera captures view of wing breaking off and aircraft rolling and crashing in flames. Witnesses rush to the crash site and emergency equipment responds. Views of smoldering wreckage. (According to some sources, the accident began when the gas cap loosened in the slipstream and blew through the pilots canopy hitting pilot Bayles in the face, either stunning or killing him.) His reaction on the controls pitches the plane up sharply causing a catastrophic structural failure of the right wing. The plane then snap rolled into the ground and explodes into a blaze alongside railroad tracks bordering the airport. Bayles' body was thrown 300 ft. as the huge radial engine broke loose and was hurled hundreds more feet. (Recent experiments with a reproduction of the aircraft also indicate that wing flutter would develop at speeds above 240 mph on the Gee Bee Z Super Sportster.)
Part of the building shown at 1:52 still exists today in the far northeast corner of the airport near all the rental car companies. The railroad tracks still exist as well. The plane appears to start to break apart over what is now the intersection of Middlebelt & Wick Roads (1/4 mile south of I-94) in Romulus, MI.
This historic stock footage available in HD and SD video. View pricing below video player.
Have a correction or more info about this clip? Edit Now